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Volume 20 No. 42
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AECOM in line to design $80M renovation of McKale Center

Don Muret
The University of Arizona has tentatively selected AECOM to design a proposed $80 million renovation of McKale Center, the Pac-12 school’s 40-year-old basketball arena, officials with the architect confirmed.

AECOM officials declined further comment until they have a signed contract. The university cannot make a public announcement regarding the selection until it has completed negotiations and has a signed contract with the highest-ranked firm from the interview process, said Stephen Smith, Arizona’s senior architect in charge of planning, design and construction.

The Arizona job extends a nice run of college arena victories for AECOM, whose director of sports is Jon Niemuth, a principal in Kansas City.

Last month, AECOM was given the go-ahead to start designing a new arena for the University of Mississippi after the school’s board of trustees approved a $6 million fee for architects to begin their work. Cooke Douglass Farr Lemons, a local firm, is AECOM’s design partner for the project. The initial concepts for the arena design have 9,000 to 10,000 seats, six to 12 suites, and club and loge box seating. The dimensions are similar to Auburn Arena, a 2-year-old venue Ole Miss officials have visited four times to get ideas for their project, Niemuth said.

In addition to Auburn Arena, designed by 360 Architecture, AECOM plans to use one of its own projects, Missouri State’s JQH Arena, as a model for cost and finishes, he said. The Missouri Valley Conference facility, built for about $70 million, opened in 2008 with 9,600 fixed seats.

Project officials estimate it will cost $100 million to build the new Mississippi arena and a parking garage with 500 to 700 spaces, Niemuth said. The arena site, to the west of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, is now a parking lot.

The arena project is part of Ole Miss’ “Forward Together” fundraising campaign, the SEC school’s effort to raise $150 million to pay for the new basketball facility, stadium renovations and a new $12 million indoor football practice facility. To date, it has raised about $78 million.

AECOM, originally hired to help the school develop the fundraising plan, is also designing the practice facility, which is now under construction, Niemuth said.

AECOM completed a study for the Vaught-Hemingway upgrades, but the renovation project has not officially been awarded to an architect.

Elsewhere, AECOM received contract approval last month to design improvements to Illinois’ Assembly Hall. The architect’s $2 million contract is part of a meticulous process in Illinois where every stage of design must be approved at the state level before construction starts, Niemuth said. The UI board of trustees meets in May to approve final construction documents and the project cost.

The $160 million renovation of the 50-year-old Big Ten arena includes $115 million in hard construction costs. The work will be done over five phases, running through the year 2017, Niemuth said.

Bull’s BBQ has been a hit in Philly; now it will be served at the White Sox’s park.
> CHICAGO BULL’S: Former major league slugger Greg “The Bull” Luzinski has expanded his line of pulled pork sandwiches to a second MLB park after signing a deal with Delaware North Sportservice, general concessions provider at U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox.

Luzinski, a Chicago native, will supply his product to Sportservice but without referring to it as part of his Bull’s BBQ brand, Sportservice officials said. Hatfield Meats, Luzinksi’s partner in Philadelphia, will prepare the pork and share revenue with Bull 19, the family-owned firm.

The deal is tied to the 30-year anniversary of the 1983 White Sox’s “Winning Ugly” team. Luzinski was that club’s designated hitter.

Luzinski also played on the 1980 world champion Phillies, and it’s in Philadelphia where he opened the popular Bull’s BBQ stand in the right-field corner of Citizens Bank Park. The two-man grill, run by Aramark, the Phillies’ food vendor, sells 60,000 pounds of pork every season, plus barbecue chicken, ribs, kielbasa, and beef and turkey sandwiches, said Ryan Luzinski, who is involved in his father’s operation.

As part of his marketing deal with the Phillies, Greg Luzinski signs autographs at Bull’s BBQ at each home game. Luzinski is expected to make a few trips to Chicago to celebrate the 1983 team, which won the AL West title.

Don Muret can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @breakground.