INSTITUTE, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia State University Vice President and Chief of Staff Ericke Cage looks over a sea of dirt at Dickerson stadium.
Right now, construction vehicles sit on the ground. But soon, the area will be transformed with new turf, bleachers and lights.
Cage says the new venue isn’t just an athletic venture, it will be a place where the whole community can come together.
“It’s going to provide a great venue for folks to come in and enjoy the competition because WVSU is all about community and we value the support we receive from the surrounding community,” he said.
West Virginia State was one of five universities to receive a grant from the HBCU Field of Dreams Program launched by Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Willie Lanier and the Honey Bear Project. The $1.28 million donation goes along with a $250,000 pledge from the Jacobson Foundation and $150,000 from the Kanawha County Commission.
“It says that we believe in West Virginia State University,” Cage said. “We believe in the mission and we believe in the students. So it makes us feel good and it really underscores to us why we’re here and encourages us and empowers us to do the work that we do.”
Athletic Director Nate Burton said donations like these don’t come around often. With a lower enrollment, it’s harder for a smaller school like WVSU to receive that type of funding.
“It’s a game-changer for us,” Burton said. “We’re not [West Virginia University], we’re not Marshall [University] but we are grateful for the people that support our athletic department and our university.
This new field will be ready by homecoming Oct. 16 when the Yellow Jackets host UNC Pembroke, a day that Burton says will be great for the community.
“I think homecoming is going to be the best homecoming,” he said. “I think people are going to want to come out and see the facility and watch our football team in action.”
While the renovation project continues, Burton says the WVSU football team will practice at Shawnee Sports Complex and are working on home venues in the interim.