Multiple entities, including The Honey Bear Project, Jacobson Foundation and Kanawha County Commission have all come together to see through $2 million in renovations at West Virginia State University. Learn about the plans for new bleachers, artificial turf, and more at WVSU in the official release below.

Construction will begin later this spring on the new Gregory V. Monroe Athletic Complex at West Virginia State University. The new, two-story building will contain 15,691 square feet of space, including meeting rooms, a weight room, training room and a locker room. Artist’s Rendering Courtesy of West Virginia State University

West Virginia State University (WVSU) has announced nearly $2 million in upgrades to its football stadium that will include installation of an artificial turf field, lights and new bleachers.

The announcement was made today during a ceremony on the field that featured NFL Hall of Fame player Willie Lanier, whose non-profit Honey Bear Project has pledged $1.28  million for artificial turf for the field through its HBCU Field of Dreams program.

“This is a special day for our university, our student-athletes and our fans,” said WVSU Athletic Director Nate Burton. “The project will not only enhance the ability of our teams to recruit exceptional student-athletes from across the country, but it will enhance the ability of our current student-athletes to prepare, train, and compete for championships. We are extremely grateful for the generous support from the Honey Bear Project, the Jacobson Foundation, and the Kanawha County Commission.”

Credit: West Virginia State University

Lanier’s Honey Bear Project, a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, was created to upgrade athletic facilities at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The goal of the Honey Bear Project is to raise $50 million over the next three years with minimal to no cost to the participating schools, and to bring HBCUs’ athletic facilities up to a competitive level by providing new turf football fields to programs playing on grass and resurfacing existing fields that are outdated and in need of repair and upgrade. WVSU is the fifth school to receive funding through the Field of Dreams program.

Also announced Tuesday was a $250,000 matching challenge gift for lighting and new bleachers from The Bernard H. and Blanche E. Jacobson Foundation, a local foundation with the goal of contributing to the quality of life for citizens in the state of West Virginia, and particularly in the Kanawha Valley.

John Ray, the grandson of James Lakin for whom the football field is named, has been active in philanthropic support for both the university and the Jacobson Foundation. In recognition of Ray’s contributions to his family legacy of leadership and support, WVSU will rename its football field Lakin-Ray Field.

The Kanawha County Commission also pledged $150,000 toward the installation of lights at Lakin-Ray Field.
Once all of the upgrades are completed, WVSU athletics will partner with the nearby Shawnee Sports Complex in hosting football and soccer tournaments.

Installation of the artificial turf is expected to be completed by WVSU’s Homecoming in mid-October.  The Yellow Jackets football team is set to play UNC-Pembroke in the Homecoming football game on Saturday, October 16, at 1:30 p.m.

Lighting will begin to be installed next month and is planned to be operational before the conclusion of the fall 2021 sports season.