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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

As Convocation Center nears completion,
Gov. Almond checks out his seat
Rhody’s top supporter also tours Center with URI president

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 22, 2002 -- Gov. Lincoln Almond today was escorted to his new seat in the 8,000-seat Convocation Center by University of Rhode Island President Robert L. Carothers, other University officials, members of the construction team and the managers of the facility.

The governor is the first to take his seat in the $54 million center, which is about two months away from its official opening. Construction crews are in the final stages of work.

"From the first days when the Convocation Center was being discussed as a concept, I have looked forward to seeing this project become a reality," said Almond. "In a matter of weeks, this wonderful facility will become a working part of the University's athletic and cultural life. The Convocation Center is also a symbol of URI's growth. Like my fellow alumni, I have fond memories of Keaney Gym, which served my generation well. It is gratifying to know that the Convocation Center will be home to equally fond memories for current students and generations to come."

URI President Robert L. Carothers had high praise for the governor, who has co-chaired the Center’s Blue Ribbon Steering Committee and been one of the strongest supporters not only of the Convocation Center project but of the unprecedented level of capital improvements involving residence halls, academic and administration buildings.

"As the first Rhode Island governor to have graduated from URI, Lincoln Almond has been more than faithful to his alma mater," Carothers said. "Generations of students and alumni will benefit from his leadership these past eight years."

Enthusiasm is building as the two-year Convocation Center project comes to a close and as the Center is about to become the focal point for athletics, cultural events, and entertainment for URI and the entire region.

Work began on the largest construction project in the University’s history on July 13, 2000 when the governor operated a crane and swung a wrecking ball into the old field house at Meade Stadium, marking the start of demolition and site preparation for the 200,000-square-foot facility.

It’s been 18 months since the governor joined other state and University officials for the official groundbreaking ceremonies in October 2000.

For many months, donors, alumni, and representatives of the media and corporations have been touring the building, walking through the stages of construction of the event floor, the concourse level and the luxury suite level. They toured the concourse and six luxury boxes, which have views of the arena floor and the Meade Stadium football field. They also viewed the seating layout, the three stair towers, which are modeled after lighthouses, and the locations for the seven concession stands and 10 restrooms.

In addition, the center puts students in prime viewing sections along the floor on three sides of the arena. Because of the steep design of the seating bowl, no seat will be more than 74 feet from the action.

The building stands 86 feet high and is built with tall walls of glass windows. The event level houses 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. An Alumni Room will also be available for rental.

While the construction project rolls on, $14.8 million of the $15 million private fund-raising goal has been raised as the campaign enters its final months. One of the final phases is the brick campaign, which allows supporters to buy a piece of history.

Bricks can be purchased for $150 each to pay tribute to favorite athletes, coaches, teams, faculty members, classmates, fraternities, sororities, clubs or alumni chapters.

The commemorative bricks will be placed in the North Plaza Brick Entry, which will be surrounded by pristine landscaping, sitting walls and walkways. A total of 4,500 bricks will make up the semicircular plaza. All bricks must be ordered by June 30, 2002. For order forms, visit the web site at www.advance.uri.edu/fundraising/convocationcenter/bricks or call 401-874-7536.

In March, URI said goodbye to Keaney Gym as its main athletic and entertainment venue with basketball games, concerts, special events and many great memories. URI had long ago outgrown Keaney, which was built in 1953 for a student body of 2,183. The University now enrolls more than 14,000.

Keaney will now be the headquarters of the URI women’s volleyball team, and the Institute for International Sport’s New England Basketball Hall of Fame.

For information: Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116

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