The WVU football program recently announced that the annual Spring Game will be held at Milan Puskar Stadium on April 7.
According to WVUsports.com, it will get started at 1 p.m. and cost $10 per person. It’s not a bad way to get in a football mindset in the middle of Spring. There is still a lot of down time before the real action begins on Mountaineer Field a few months later.
There are also a number of reasons to avoid going to the Spring Game. First of all, calling it a game is a bit of a misnomer. It is basically a glorified practice, though there is some type of scoring system. Also, weather plays a huge factor in the attendance and overall feel of the game.
In recent years, heavy rain and cold temperatures have diminished the fan experience. That’s no fault of the WVU football program, but Mother Nature seems to not be too kind to anybody in the Spring.
There has been several attempts to draw more interest in the game such as having an alumni game and even last year, some former WVU football players saw action against the current team, according to TribLive.com. Still, it’s hard to get the casual fan all jazzed up for a scrimmage.
In 2016, the Spring Game was played at the Greenbrier in White Sulpher Springs. This move gave fans in the southern part of the state a chance to see the Mountaineers up close. Plus, it helped the players see other parts of the Mountain State outside of Morgantown. The Greenbrier is one of the premier resorts in the country, so having a mini vacation isn’t bad for anyone on the football staff.
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Also in recent years, the WVU football team has held practices in different parts of the state like Wheeling, Charleston and Martinsburg. That should be a tradition kept going as it allows people to see their heroes right in their backyard. But the real tradition should stay in Morgantown as the Spring Game needs to be more than just a game, or scrimmage, or practice.
Having any football at Milan Puskar Stadium should be treated like a grand celebration. The facility is only used six or seven times a year, so each time it is opened to fans there needs to be a cause for a party. With the Spring Game, that means more attention should be added off the field.
The Spring Game is what it is and the practice-like feel of it won’t change and it shouldn’t change. WVU football head coach Dana Holgorsen has enough to worry about and making the game fun for fans shouldn’t cross his mind. However, some people in the administration should set up more activities to attract the fairweather fan to Morgantown — rain or shine — on a Saturday in April.
Having a large tailgate party, which sometimes occurs for the Spring Game, is a start. Also, setting up a concert and games for kids is another outlet to get people to Morgantown. The WVU football team will never have 100,000 people there for the Spring Game and it probably will never fill Milan Puskar Stadium to capacity for this event, but 30,000 fans is a realistic target.
Having a decent amount of people there for the Spring Game will look good to the many recruits who make a visit to Morgantown that weekend. There needs to be more going on to showcase the fanbase to recruits during Spring Game weekend.