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Mountaineers field gone but not forgotten [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Special to the Post-Gazette
March 10, 1987

MORGANTOWN, WV—Old Mountaineer Field may be gone, but two entrepreneurs are trying to make sure it’s not forgotten.

Home of West Virginia University football games between 1924 and 1979, the 32,000-seat stadium was demolished recently. For the past seven years, the school’s teams have played a mile away in new Mountaineer Field, which has 50,000 seats.

Trying to cash in on the sentiments of diehard fans are Fred Fiorini, owner of the Morgantown Sports Center, and Mary Swim, a WVU graduate student, with independent efforts to sell wall plaques made from the stadium’s wooden bleachers.

Fiorini bought some of the weathered bleachers from the company that dismantled the stadium. He them cut into 8- by 10-inch pieces and had an aerial photograph of the stadium were mounted on top.

Selling the plaques for $9.95 apiece through his store and the WVU alumni newsletter, Fiorini has sold about 100 of the 2,000 mementoes in stock. But now that the stadium is little more than a vacant lot, he expects sales to take off.

“Those people who have emotional ties to the stadium used to be able to just go over and see it,” he said. “Now that it’s gone, the alumni are going to need something to remember it.”

The $35-plaque devised by Swim also uses wood from the bleachers, but features an aerial photo of the last WVU-University of Pittsburgh game played at the stadium and a sample of the field’s artificial turf. With enough of that turf to fill two garages at her home in Beckley, Swim hopes to develop additional stadium mementoes.

“I came, up with the idea to buy the Astroturf and bleacher sections last summer,” she said. “I bought everything Fiorini didn’t.” She declined to be more specific, saying only that her share of the salvage cost—“enough- to buy a small car.”

Although their target market is West Virginia grads, both entrepreneurs hope to peddle some of the mementos to Pitt fans, too. After all, the Panthers played some of their most bitter contests at Mountaineer Field.

Tony Constantine, former sports editor for the Morgantown Post, now the Dominion-Post, said the most memorable games played at the former stadium were against the Mountaineers’ northern archrival.

“The stadium was not sold out for a game until the 1954 meeting with ‘Pitt,” he said. “The attendance was listed as 34,000 and seats had to be added at the west end and along the side lines.”

The stadium’s attendance record was set at -the last game played there, when 38,691 fans turned out to see WVU lose to Pitt, 24-12, oh Nov. 10, 1979.

The previous record was set at the 1972 Pitt game, attended by 38,500.


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"I get by with a little help from my friends," says Hope, who gives special thanks to:

• MICHAEL GIBBS, website illustration and design: www.michaelgibbs.com
• MAX KUKOY, website development: www.maxwebworks.com
• STEVE BARRETT, portrait of Hope on Bio page: www.stevebarrettphotography.com

Contact HOPE KATZ GIBBS by phone [703-346-6975] or email.