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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Renovations begin for McKale Center

Rebecca Marie Sasnett

Construction workers remove the floor of McKale Memorial Center during the McKale renovation project on Tuesday afternoon. The McKale renovation project is set to conclude by the start of the 2014 fall semester and will include a new court, new locker rooms, new score board and new seats.

McKale Center is getting a makeover.

Construction to improve fan and athlete facilities in McKale Center is now well underway.

Discussions over improvements to McKale Center, which was built in 1973, have been in progress for a few years. The overall improvements include replacing the arena floor and seating, as well as working to improve locker rooms, restrooms and more.

Steve Kozachik, associate director of athletics, facilities and capital projects, said construction is on schedule. The construction crews have demolished the existing arena floor and removed some of the seating and lighting, Kozachik said. Demolition of the locker rooms started at midnight on Monday.

“Right now we’re in the ‘breaking it’ phase, and then we’re moving on to the ‘building it’ phase,” Kozachik said.

Kozachik added that the operation is on a tight schedule — construction has to finish by the start of the fall 2014 semester so it doesn’t interfere with sports, so crews are running double shifts to keep on schedule. The arena floor and seating construction are scheduled to be finished in late August for the start of the volleyball season. The locker rooms will be finished around that time as well.

The changes in the arena will wow fans, Kozachik said. As for student-athletes who work and play in McKale, Kozachik said he thinks they will be excited by the updated locker rooms and lounges.

“I think everyone is looking forward to seeing the new look of the arena,” Kozachik said. “We’re doing something for everyone.”

Erika Barnes, senior associate director of athletics, administration and major gifts, said that the project is being entirely funded by private donations and that campaigns are underway to solicit funding and donation commitments. The Athletics Department looks for donations from large donors first in order to ensure there is a realistic chance for the project to get off the ground, Barnes said.

The construction project has multiple stages, and the first phase has just begun, according to Barnes. The $25 million funding and launch of the project was approved by the Arizona Board of Regents as part of a projected budget of $80 million — a number that is subject to change based on need.

The Athletics Department put down $12.5 million and financed an additional $12.5 million at 3.8 percent interest, Barnes added, with a total cost of around $30 million.

Barnes said the men and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball locker rooms are being redone, but the construction will positively impact all 20 of the UA’s sports. Fans will see improvements like bathrooms and concession stands on the concourse level, she added, as well as handrails and more ADA seating for disabled fans.

McKale is going to be a major construction site this spring and summer, Barnes said, and students may hear the sounds of demolition.

“The positive impact is worth the temporary inconvenience,” Barnes said.

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