INSTITUTE, W.Va. – The West Virginia State University Athletic Department announced a renovation project of Lakin-Ray Field at Dickerson Stadium on Tuesday afternoon with a ceremonial presentation on the site of the ground-breaking venture. The project will include the installation of artificial turf and stadium lights, along with new bleachers, to accommodate future football contests and women’s soccer matches.
“This is a special day for our university, our student-athletes and our fans,” said WVSU Athletic Director Nate Burton in a release. “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.”
The work on adding turf to the field started this past week courtesy of a $1.28 million pledge from the HBCU Field of Dreams Program. The program is managed by the Honey Bear Project and establishes collaborative partnerships to provide financial support to participating Historically Black Colleges and Universities’ athletic fields.
The HBCU Field of Dreams Program is an initiative launched by NFL Hall of Famer Willie ‘Honey Bear’ Lanier and his non-profit charitable organization. The main goal of the program is to raise $50 million over the next three years to install state-of-the-art playing surfaces at nearly three dozen HBCU football stadiums. West Virginia State became the fifth school to receive a gift from the Honey Bear Project and further the mission of providing facility upgrades to deserving HBCUs.
The necessary funding to bring stadium lighting and bleachers to Lakin-Ray Field was provided by a $250,000 gift from the Bernard H. and Blanche E. Jacobson Foundation as well as a $150,000 contribution from the Kanawha County Commission. The Jacobson Foundation is a private charitable organization that awards grants to other qualified charitable organizations, primarily those in the Greater Kanawha Valley in southern West Virginia. Meanwhile, the mission of the Kanawha County Commission is to promote the interests of our County and its citizens through honest and open dealings, prudent use of public resources, and respect for all persons and views.
The Shaw Sports Turf will be fully planted and ready for use in time for Homecoming when the Yellow Jackets host UNC Pembroke on Saturday, Oct. 16th. The Musco Sports Lighting will begin to be installed next month and is planned to be operational before the conclusion of the fall 2021 season. The new bleachers are scheduled to be installed in 2022.