WVU Coliseum - West Virginia Mountaineers
Photos by Jared Goodman, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
WVU Coliseum 1701 Red River St Austin, TX 78701
Year Opened: 1970 Capacity: 14,000
Country Roads, Take Me Home...
“...to the place I belong. West Virginia...” If you didn’t read that sentence to the tune of John Denver’s Country Roads, you might need to read up on The Mountaineer State. That ode to wild and wonderful West Virginia (“almost heaven,” according to Denver’s hit single) hit the airwaves in 1971 and would quickly become inextricably linked to the state’s identity.
Five months prior to the release of the famous tune, West Virginia experienced another big happening. In December 1970, West Virginia University debuted their new basketball arena in the city of Morgantown. WVU Coliseum, which features a unique poured concrete dome, would become the new 14,000 seat home of men’s and women’s basketball. The Coliseum, which cost $10 million to build, underwent extensive renovations in 2004 and 2008 to help make it one of the best college basketball venues in the nation.
Food & Beverage 5
The concourse that rings the seating bowl is riddled with concession stands, from stand-alone carts to full-blown markets. Some of the smaller carts, which tend to accept cash only, feature items such as roasted nuts ($6.50), Dippin’ Dots, and Italian ices.
Besides your typical concession counters, the Coliseum features an airport-style market. The aptly-named Country Roads Market is primarily self-serve, which makes a food run that much quicker. Items available here include bottled Coca-Cola beverages ($3), hot dogs ($4), candy ($3), pretzels ($4.50), and popcorn ($4.50). Among the entrée offerings are pre-made deli sandwiches, steak hoagies ($8), and Pizza Cones ($9). The latter is exactly what you’d expect: a cone-shaped slab of dough stuffed with delicious melted cheese. The Pizza Cone is truly unique and a must-eat when visiting WVU Coliseum.
Alcohol is also on tap at the arena, having been recently introduced. There are a variety of beverages to choose from, including domestic drafts, wine, and Mike’s Hard Lemonade. All are priced at $8.
Aside from the mandatory rendition of Country Roads, you can expect a lot of enthusiasm and excitement on game day at WVU Coliseum.
As the Mountaineers are introduced, a blue carpet proclaiming “WEST VIRGINIA” is rolled out onto the court. Flashing lights and heart-pounding sound effects accompany this display of pageantry.
After the first WVU basket of the game, the student section throws confetti into the air. Unlike some college basketball venues that cram students into one of the end zones, the students at WVU are across the court from the benches in their own special section on the sideline.
West Virginia’s live mascot, The Mountaineer, will also occasionally fire blanks out of a musket. The Davy Crockett-like character attends every major athletic event and is always played by a current WVU student. The role is switched out every year or every few years.
While the WVU Coliseum is in the center of a gigantic parking lot, that doesn’t mean that you need a car to get around. On foot, a few chain restaurants and stores are a little less than a mile to the east. Among the options here include Chick-fil-A, Kroger, Eat’n Park, Arby’s, Panera Bread, and West Virginia’s own Tudor’s Biscuit World. If you haven’t been to this Mountaineer gem, make it a priority to stop in at one of Tudor’s many locations in the state.
If you’re taking the PRT (the school's Personal Rapid Transit system), you’ll have a larger pool to pick from. There are many shops and restaurants in downtown Morgantown, as well as in the areas surrounding parts of the WVU campus.
The bland concrete shell of the Coliseum is often contrasted with thousands of screaming fans decked in blue and yellow. The same concrete dome helps amplify their noise, intimidating even the mightiest of opponents.
Mountaineer fans are known for being hard-core and loyal. That being said, a majority of the fans seem to enjoy jeering the opposition and the referees more than they enjoy cheering on their own team. It’s loudest when a crowd of 8,000 plus boos an opposing player shooting a free throw, or when a referee makes a call against West Virginia.
As is the case with most venues in college basketball, the Coliseum fills up and hits peak rowdiness during conference play. However, the home-to-away fans ratio is almost always tipped in favor of West Virginia during the non-conference slate.
Morgantown is located in the northern portion of West Virginia, about an hour south of Pittsburgh. The town is linked to this metropolitan area via I-79. Cumberland, Maryland and points east are accessible via I-68, which terminates in Morgantown.
While there’s ample parking surrounding the circular Coliseum, the lots closest to the arena entrances are generally dedicated to special pass holders. The other lots in the immediate area are free of charge, but fill very quickly. This creates a parade of cars nearly a mile long stretching down Monongahela Boulevard. Police are stationed at nearby intersections to direct traffic, but this doesn’t alleviate the congestion. A word to the wise: arrive at least 90 minutes before tip-off and you should be fine.
When nearing the Coliseum, you’ll see many signs and traffic cones, so stay alert and follow the flow of traffic. While it’s not always a good thing to just wing it, that’s exactly what you need to do in this case. Arrive early and when you get close, you’ll somehow find your way into a safe parking spot, guaranteed.
If driving to the game seems a bit overwhelming, consider taking the PRT, the university’s Personal Rapid Transit system. The PRT costs 50-cents per person per trip and has 5 stations that connect the WVU campuses with downtown Morgantown. The Engineering Station is less than a half-mile from the Coliseum entrance, so this is the stop you’ll want to use. During the week, the system runs until 10:15pm, and till 5pm on Saturdays. It does not operate on Sundays.
After the game, leaving the Coliseum parking lot is a nightmare. It’s best to take your time leaving the building so as to not get stuck in the dense traffic.
Return on Investment 3
Tickets to non-conference games can usually be purchased for less than $20 each, depending on the opponent. During conference play, those prices don’t really go up much. A good seat in the Coliseum should run you $20-$30 when WVU hits their Big 12 slate.
Concessions are priced on the high side, but it really is a good value for what's offered. A filling lunch or supper can be bought for less than $15 a person, which is arguably a pretty good deal.
Parking is free, though the hassles of entering and exiting can be maddening.
Overall, a family of four should expect to dish out about $180 for a Mountaineers game with all the trappings.
WVU’s claim to basketball fame is undoubtedly “The Logo.” Jerry West, the famous West Virginia alum who wore #44, is the inspiration for the NBA logo that’s still in use today. A showcase that displays highlights of West’s life and times is located on the concourse, and a statue of the legend is located outside the arena.
Morgantown is a beautiful mountain locale and the WVU Coliseum is in the perfect mountain setting. Moreover, the architecture of the building is becoming increasingly distinct in the sports world. Unfortunately, it’s only a matter of time before the Mountaineers join the nationwide trend of seeking a new and improved facility. That’s why a visit to WVU Coliseum, home of the geographical outlier in the Big 12 Conference, should be on everyone’s bucket list. To get there, just let the country roads take you home to West Virginia.