Arena Topping-Out Ceremony Draws Big Crowd
By Doug Carroll
As a few hundred students and staff looked on, the final two steel beams for Grand Canyon University Arena were hoisted into place by crane shortly after 2:30 p.m. on Thursday.The ceremonial topping-out marked a historic occasion for the University and the 5,000-seat facility, tentatively scheduled to open on October 1 as the home of the men’s and women’s basketball teams. The Arena also will host concerts and other productions.
Groundbreaking took place barely seven months ago, and already the Antelopes’ coaches are envisioning their teams running up and down the floor, which has yet to be installed.
“It’s a privilege to stand here on Trent May Court, in Keith Baker Arena,” joked Russ Pennell, head coach of the men’s basketball team. “At least, that’s what they’ve been telling me.”
Pennell and May, head coach of the women’s team, were among those who addressed the gathering in the concrete bowl’s north end. Also making brief remarks were CEO Brian Mueller, campus development project manager Bob Machen, Phoenix Councilman Claude Mattox and Craig Shaw of Perini Construction, contractor for the facility.
“This will be the best midsize venue in the country,” Mueller said, noting that no taxpayer money was spent in its construction. “Our students and graduates will benefit, along with the people who come to work here every day.
“Thanks to all of you, because you have done this. This is just the beginning.”
Mattox, a Phoenix mayoral candidate, said he liked what he heard.
May called the facility “a huge step, a monumental step” and quoted from Proverbs 16:9: “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”
Shaw said the building’s construction called for 800 tons of steel. He explained an old Norwegian tradition of affixing a pine tree to the last beam. An American flag rode up with the other beam.
The building was designed by Architekton of Tempe in partnership with 360 Architecture of Kansas City, Mo., which has designed a number of top-tier sports and concert venues across the country.
Reach Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or at [email protected].