SBD/June 12, 2014/Facilities

Univ. Of Florida Moving Forward With $45M O'Connell Center Renovation Project

About $35M of the project will be generated by Florida's UAA
The Univ. of Florida Athletic Association has "made the decision to move forward" with the $45M renovation project for the O'Connell Center, approving $2.75M on Tuesday for "designing fees," according to Robbie Andreu of the GAINESVILLE SUN. An architect will "be hired shortly and the new design for the O'Connell Center will be drawn up." The $2.75M for designing fees is part of the $103.3M budget for '14-15 that was approved by the UAA BOD on Tuesday. The $45M estimated price tag includes about $35M "being generated by UAA" and another $10M by the university. UF AD Jeremy Foley said that the UAA and UF "are on target to meet their funding goal in the next few weeks, but still need to raise" about $15M more "before construction begins." The complete renovation of the O'Connell Center is "set to begin at the conclusion" of the '14-15 basketball season and "be complete by" Jan. 1, 2016. With construction "set to begin in March of 2015 and expected to take 10 months, coach Billy Donovan's basketball team is going to have to play its fall schedule in 2015 at various neutral sites around the state, including Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville, three cities where the Gators have played in the past" (GAINESVILLE SUN, 6/11).

KICKIN' UP DUST: In Sioux Falls, Mick Garry noted state engineer Gordon Hollenbeck on Tuesday "signed off on the maximum price estimate" of $66M for the Univ. of South Dakota's arena construction plans. The university said that it would be "holding the perfunctory photo op with guys in suits holding shovels" on June 17 at 1:45pm CT. But USD AD David Herbster said that the "real digging" will begin in "late July and early August with the track and soccer facility expected to be completed in the fall of 2015 and the arena ready by fall 2016." By then, USD expects to have ready a 6,000-seat arena "with a ground-level main floor and second-level concourse that includes practice courts," a connecting building that will "house a science, health and research lab that will include classrooms, clinical areas, office space and a weight room," as well as the outdoor track and soccer facility (Sioux Falls ARGUS LEADER, 6/11).

THE MORE THE MERRIER: In Chicago, Shannon Ryan noted DePaul Univ. on Tuesday released a "new series of photo renderings depicting its future basketball arena." The images show "suites now on two levels of the west sideline instead of the floor level suites that were originally planned behind the team bench." An additional photo shows a "sports bar and restaurant." The rendering also shows the location "for the 1,200-room hotel adjacent to the arena" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 6/10).
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