The Virginia Tech wrestling team competes in one of the finest facilities in the country, while also training in its own workout area that rates as a first-class facility in and of itself.
Cassell Coliseum serves as the Hokies’ wrestling home and a place where the program has enjoyed some of its most memorable moments. The most memorable occurred during the 2014 season when the Hokies roared to an ACC title at the ACC Championship held at the arena. Behind four individual winners, Tech amassed 87 points to beat Pittsburgh by 20 points in an event many expected to be close.
The coliseum also serves as the home for Tech’s basketball programs and volleyball program. Construction for the main portion of Cassell Coliseum began in 1961. It was completed in December of 1964 at a cost of $2.7 million. Built by T.C. Brittain and Company of Decatur, Ga., it houses an arena, locker rooms, an auxiliary gymnasium, a strength and conditioning center, offices and other athletics facilities.
For years, the arena was called the Virginia Tech Coliseum. But on September 17, 1977, Virginia Tech officials and friends dedicated the coliseum in honor of the late Stuart K. Cassell, who spearheaded the project. In the late 1950s, Cassell, who was the chief business officer at the time and later became the vice president of the school, saw the need for a new basketball arena to replace the outdated War Memorial Gymnasium, and he eventually managed to get the state legislature to approve the building of the 8,000-seat arena. Cassell, though, found a seat manufacturer that made seats a little smaller than normal seats and squeezed an extra 2,000 seats into the building, bringing the capacity to 10,000.
Since that time, Cassell Coliseum has undergone many renovations and additions to make it the building it is today. The latest addition came in the fall of 2013 when Tech officials hired Panasonic to install two new video scoreboards with high-definition LED displays on each end of the arena. The scoreboards are 18 feet high and 29 feet wide – more than double the size of the previous video scoreboards – and enhance the fan experience. Combined with a new video scoreboard for Lane Stadium, the Hokies’ football home, and a new control room, the project cost nearly $7 million.
Other improvements have been made. Prior to the 2003-04 season, the concourse area was renovated and now features more accessible concession areas, new flooring, video monitors that allow fans to watch the action when not in the arena and the addition of Hokie stone to many of the entrances to the seating area. In 2001-02, the seats were stripped of their original paint and refinished to retain their natural wood look. In 1996-97, workers replaced the roof of the facility and installed structural access to the heating and lighting systems. They also restored and resealed the exterior concrete walls and buttresses.
Through new projects, renovations and maintenance reserve projects, Cassell Coliseum has undergone approximately $10 million in improvements over the past decade.
The venue has been the site of some tremendous wrestling and crowds over the years. On Feb. 5, 2011, Tech set an attendance record, drawing 3,378 fans for its match with the University of Virginia – a match the Hokies won by a count of 20-12. The crowd shattered the previous attendance record of 1,763 fans set on Feb. 8, 2009, against Maryland. Also, on Jan. 22, 2012, the Hokies drew a crowd of 2,422 fans, who witnessed No. 23 Tech defeat North Carolina 29-12.
The coliseum also served as the venue for the ACC Championship in 2009 and has been the location for many big wrestling events. The Virginia State Championships and the Eastern Wrestling League were held at the coliseum in 2001. And on Dec. 8, 2001, a crowd of more than 1,600 filled into Cassell Coliseum to witness the Hokies take on No. 1 and defending national champion Minnesota. In 2004, 1,310 fans poured into Cassell Coliseum to witness the Hokies shut out the University of Virginia, 38-0.
The wrestling team practices in its own training room on the third floor of the football locker room facility adjacent to Cassell Coliseum – a facility that was constructed in 2010. This floor contains more than 6,000 square feet of mat space. The floor also houses the wrestling team’s locker room and coaches’ offices.
The team also works out in the W.A. and Mae Street Olympic Sports Complex, a strength and conditioning centered located in Cassell that is dedicated solely to Olympic sports. It features more than 6,000 square feet filled with new weights, barbells, weight racks and other assorted equipment designed to help one get stronger, bigger and faster. The new center also features an 1,800 square-foot mezzanine level designed with equipment to help enhance the functional movement of Tech’s athletes and thus prevent injuries.
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