This story has been updated to correct details about the timeline of the project.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — There have been mixed responses since West Virginia University announced that it plans to build the new Pride of West Virginia practice facility at Mylan Park.
Although university officials say that the move from the originally planned location at Hawley Field is more cost effective and removed concerns of priority usage, drainage and space, many alumni have voiced their concerns about transportation and use of donor funds that were originally intended for the Hawley Field project.
12 News reached out to WVU to ask questions about some of the main concerns, and received a response on Tuesday, Oct. 31, including the following clarifications.
In the response, a WVU spokesperson said that as far as transportation, “a carpooling system is already in place” in the marching band. The university pointed out that in previous years, students who do not have cars have been paired with students who do for ridesharing. It also cited data from summer band camp of this year, pointing out that of the more than 300 band members, only 61 recorded that they needed transportation help, and “all were accommodated with no issue.”
“Driving to Mylan Park will not be a different procedure for those students,” said the representative.
It also said that Mountain Line Bus transportation is often used by athletes who use the Aquatic Center and Track at Mylan Park and that “discussions will be held with campus transportation and Mountain Line to explore adjustments to current routes or adding new routes to accommodate band members needing to get from campus to the practice facility. We’ll share more details as they’re finalized.”
The university also said that at the new location, which is about 10-20 minutes from the original facility location depending on traffic, the band’s practice schedule will not have to altered for Coliseum or Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium events.
The spokesperson also said that although there were rumors that the band would have exclusive use of the facility sparked by a 2020 video on YouTube where the current director of the band, Dr. Cheldon Williams, said the field would be “only dedicated to [the band],” the facility was always intended for “shared-use.”
However, the spokesperson said that there will be a memorandum of understanding outlining “exclusive use of the facility by The Pride of West Virginia at the times needed by the band” and the facility’s use policy for other entities.
“Since The Pride does not use the field from January through June, the field would sit empty for six months out of the year. Allowing controlled use of the field by approved groups is a gesture of good will and community engagement,” the university said.
In response to concerns from alumni that their donations are not being used for what they intended, the university spokesperson gave the following response:
“Regarding donations, the College of Creative Arts Development Office and the WVU Foundation began fundraising for the facility nearly four years ago. Approximately $1.25 million has been raised in support of a new practice facility for the marching band. This money will still support the construction of the facility. Mylan Park offered the use of the land at no cost to the band and no donation dollars will be given to Mylan Park. The money raised is in the WVU Foundation account to be used for facility construction costs.”
A spokesperson from the West Virginia University Foundation also gave the following response to questions from 12 News:
“We are aware that there are some in our community who have voiced their opposition to the University’s decision to construct the WVU Pride Marching Band facility at Mylan Park, and we are also aware that there are many who support this decision. With respect to your inquiry regarding some donors’ concerns about “restricted use funding”, we will continue to ensure that all funds that have been donated for the purpose of constructing a new marching band facility will indeed be used for that purpose.”
Construction on the new facility at Mylan Park is scheduled to start in 2024 with a groundbreaking ceremony, and officials hope the facility will be completed by the start of band camp next year.
A groundbreaking facility for the original facility at Hawley Field took place in 2021, but construction work never took off.