An institution itself for more than a century, the Mountaineer Marching Band at West Virginia University will soon have a home of its own in Morgantown, West Virginia.
Dedicated alumni and university officials are working together to pursue a practice facility for the 330-member band, which currently practices in the parking lot at the WVU Coliseum.
The new facility will be located on the Evansdale campus, replacing Hawley Field—the former home of WVU Baseball. The facility will be supported by the College of Creative Arts, WVU Athletics and the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences.
Keith Jackson, dean of the WVU College of Creative Arts, says the institution has long deserved its own space.
“One of the most recognizable icons of our land-grant institution, The Pride has long deserved a dedicated rehearsal space and we are excited to bring this project to life,” Jackson said.
“The Mountaineer Marching Band has been an integral part of WVU’s character and pride, bringing its enthusiasm and love of West Virginia to every football game, basketball game, and appearance around the state and country."
The facility is currently in the planning stages, but initial designs include a turf field the size of a football field, a pavilion to protect users from the elements, lighting and sound systems, and climate-controlled storage for instruments and uniforms.
Scott Tobias, director of bands, says the facility will allow the band members to hone their performances by increasing available practice time and replicating field conditions.
“A turf field will allow the band members to rehearse on the same surface on which they perform in Milan Puskar Stadium," Tobias said, "while lights and a pavilion will help us avoid the loss of rehearsal time due to weather and early sunsets late in the fall.
He said the climate-controlled storage will greatly extend the life of our instruments and uniforms, and the facility will be a valuable asset when it comes to recruiting future generations of band members.
“One cannot underestimate the positive impact that a quality facility has on attracting prospective new students to our program,” he said.
“High school students visiting campus and observing our rehearsals will see a dedicated, hard-working ensemble being provided the tools and facilities needed to achieve and perform at a high level.”
When the band is not practicing, the facility will be open for use to WVU Athletics and the WVU College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences.
Initial fundraising for the facility will begin Wednesday as part of WVU Day-of-Giving.
The WVU Alumni Band, a group that extends the marching band experience beyond college, is helping fundraise for the project and has committed to raising $500,000.
The organization recently received the John F. Nicholas Jr. Award from the WVU Alumni Association.
Every dollar up to $20,000 given to the practice facility during Day of Giving will be matched by a group of supportive alumni.
Jackson said the College of Creative Arts considers the facility essential.
“Fundraising for this project is vital to keep the timeline moving and get our Pride members the facility they deserve as quickly as possible,” Jackson said.
“As we look to the future, we also look to the community and friends of the Mountaineer Marching Band for your continued support.”
To support the Pride of West Virginia Practice Facility, visit DayofGiving.wvu.edu on Nov. 13.