Structural steelwork under way at URI ice arena project
Convocation Center now substantially enclosed
KINGSTON, R.I. -- December 14, 2001 -- The University of Rhode Island is well on its way to making the Kingston Campus the coolest place in South County as contractors have completed much of the steel framework of the new $12 million ice arena.
And officials with Global Spectrum, the ice arena and Convocation Center manager, report that commitments for luxury boxes in the Convocation Center and ice time for the arena are now in place.
In terms of construction, the mostly mild, dry fall has allowed workers to make solid progress on both the URI Convocation Center and ice arena projects. The Convocation Center is now substantially enclosed, allowing work to continue through the winter months.
"The warm, dry weather has helped us keep a steady pace at both the Convocation Center and the ice arena," said Paul DePace, director of capital projects at URI.
At the ice arena site to the north and west of the tennis courts off Keaney Road, the foundation is complete, the structural steel skeleton is now in place, and piping that will transport water from the chiller to the rink floor is in place.
Like the Convocation Center, the project is on schedule and on budget.
The steelwork, which began in mid-November, will be completed by the middle of January.
Major progress has been made on the project since 250 people turned out on the hottest day of last summer to launch construction of the 2,500-seat ice arena, one of only two ice rinks in Rhode Island that will operate year round.
A.F. Lusi Construction Inc. of Greenville is building the arena, while Symmes Maini & McKee Associates of Cambridge, Mass., is working with Lusi on the architectural and engineering portion of the 60,000-square-foot project. HOK Sports Facility Group of Kansas City, architects for the Convocation Center, prepared the bid specification documents for the ice arena. Gilbane Building Co. is the program manager for both facilities.
When it is opened next August, the arena will be available seven days a week, 15 hours a day.
"Interest in the ice rink continues to grow," said Kara D. Russo, director of sales and marketing for Global Spectrum. "We've gotten commitments from the Southern Rhode Island Youth Hockey Association and we will acquire the services of Jewel Augustine to head up our Learn to Skate Program."
At the $54 million Convocation Center, the largest building project in the Universitys history, the structure is now substantially enclosed and half of the interior partitions are in place. Workers are now running lines for sprinklers, and installing ducts for the heating and air conditioning systems. Electrical work is also proceeding on schedule.
Forty percent of the handrails have been installed in the arena. The stairs are also being erected in the stair towers. The catwalk that runs along the structural steel at the roof is complete, and fireproofing is also done.
Windows are also being installed and they should all be in place by January. The roof is complete; masonry and glazing should be finished by the end of December.
Contractors have paved the parking lot to the north side of the building, which will serve as VIP parking for Convocation Center events. The initial layer of paving for Tootell Road has been completed.
About 125 workers are currently at the site, but the number will build as more steps are made toward completion.
And since the building is mostly enclosed, the weather no longer plays much of a factor at the Convocation Center.
Those who saw the project over the summer when the last of the four, 65-ton, 200-foot main roof trusses were installed will now see a building whose exterior structure is nearly complete.
The $15 million fund-raising campaign for the Convocation Center is also going strong.
"With more than $14 million generated in private funding, we are closing in on our goal," said URI Vice President for University Advancement Robert M. Beagle. "We are much farther ahead than many thought we would be at this point. Our success is the result of the value of the Convocation Center project and the hard work of staff and volunteers. Around Rhode Island and at out of state alumni gatherings, there is great excitement about the Convocation Center and the ice arena. People see both facilities as having great potential."
Interest is building for the luxury suites and among advertisers.
"We have currently sold two luxury suites, and have several other interested parties for the remaining four suites," Russo said. "Advertising packages have been sold to several companies, with these packages including signs in both the Convocation Center and ice arena."
The Convocation Center will seat 7,700 for mens and womens basketball games and 9,000 for non-athletic events, including concerts, lectures, career fairs, and University events.
The 200,000 square-foot-building will stand 86 feet high. The structure is also designed with tall walls of glass windows, overlooking Meade (football) Stadium. The event level will house the arena and event floor space; the main concourse will provide access to spectator facilities, including general seating, restrooms, and concessions; the suite level will provide a venue for prime viewing and food service. Two lobbies will be provided on the ground level at the major entrances to direct the flow of spectators up to the main concourse seating.
URI long ago outgrew its largest venue, Keaney Gymnasium, completed in 1953 for a student body of 2,183. The University now enrolls more than 14,000.
The new building will be readily accessible both to students and the broader Rhode Island community. The Convocation Center is a significant part of URIs overall effort to upgrade its facilities for the benefit of students and community members alike.
For digital images of the Convocation Center and ice arena, please contact Dave Lavallee.
Photographs by Nora Lewis, Division of University Advancement.
For Information: Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116