West Virginia University Director of Athletics and Associate Vice President Shane Lyons, in conjunction with the Mountaineer Athletic Club, continues to make significant progress in the Climbing Higher Campaign with the announcement of a major leadership gift to replace the 50-year-old seats in the WVU Coliseum.
Ken and Jennifer Mason of Alma, West Virginia, have provided a gift that will make a significant and positive change to the inside look of the arena and modernize its seats for fans to enjoy in the years to come. The Masons are the owners of Drilling Appalachian Corporation (DAC) with is corporate offices located in Alma.
“Many thanks to Ken and Jennifer for helping us continue to make improvements to our athletics facilities,” Lyons said. “The neat thing about this gift is that it will benefit thousands of Mountaineer fans for many, many years.
“It’s no secret that the current seats in the Coliseum are 50 years old and not very comfortable. This gift will change that along with the overall look of the arena. My sincere appreciation to the Masons for making this needed improvement a reality.”
The building’s current light blue seats are outdated, and replacement parts have not been available for several years. Plans include for the new seats to be a darker shade of blue that matches WVU’s popular blue tone, with cup holders on each seat. The seats will be replaced on a one-to-one basis, which means the current capacity of the Coliseum will not change.
In 2010, Ken Mason was named the West Virginia Oil and Gas Man of the Year for his outstanding achievements and leadership. The native West Virginian graduated from Valley High School in Wetzel County and is a 1975 graduate of WVU. He has been a past director, chairman and leader of the West Virginia Independent Oil and Gas Association (IOGA), the Environmental and Safety Committee, the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association and the Independent Producers Association.
“We are lifelong residents of West Virginia and are excited to have the opportunity to give back to a state and University that has given us so much,” the Masons said. “This gift is not only for the University, which represents us on a national level, but also for the people of West Virginia.”
In 2007, the Masons developed a student-oriented oil and gas well project to benefit WVU academically and financially. They are avid supporters of their local schools and community, current members of the Mountaineer Athletic Club and longtime WVU football and men’s basketball season ticket holders.
“The Coliseum is one of the most iconic, unique arenas in college basketball. Replacing the 50-year-old seats is a need, not a want,” Coach Bob Huggins said. “All of us in Mountaineer Basketball want to thank the Masons for their generous gift to help enhance the fan and game experience. It never ceases to amaze me the love that our fans have for this great state, our University and for our basketball program. This gift enables us to continue the upgrades to make the Coliseum one of college basketball’s finest arenas.”
Lyons said the current plan is for the old seats to be removed later this summer and the new seats to be in place for the 2020-21 basketball season. Along with the seats, the athletics department is currently seeking RFPs to upgrade the Coliseum’s sound and lighting, and the recent 16-year extension with Learfield IMG College will provide capital funds to replace the video and ribbon boards in the arena.