GCU Arena expansion is sitting pretty

June 26, 2014 / by / 2 Comments

Editor’s note: Third in a series of progress reports on the expansion of GCU Arena.

Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Darryl Webb
GCU News Bureau

The Grand Canyon University Arena expansion is starting to look like something. Pretty soon, it will sound like something – something really loud.

The new upper deck is in place at GCU Arena.

The new upper deck is in place at GCU Arena.

The big cranes are gone, replaced by only a few small lifts. That’s why the gap in the wall facing Camelback Road, an opening that was created solely for those cranes, is being filled in, robbing passing motorists of a glance inside.

The new concrete floor, on which the new portable basketball floor will sit, has been poured.

Most important, the new upper deck is in, the scaffolding is just about gone and the holes for the extra 3,000 or so seats on the top level are being drilled. Those seats should be in place by mid-July, after the seats in the top portion of the lower bowl are re-installed.

“I really like the way it looks,” said Bob Machen, GCU’s senior vice president for campus development.

He’s looking forward to how it will sound, too. That’s a function of the “eyebrow” above the upper deck, which is designed to hold in the noise. When plans for the Arena were first being designed, Machen said he spent considerable time with the architect in Kansas City “to make it as loud as we possibly could,” and a key aspect of the redesign was to make sure the upper deck enhanced the roar even more.

“It’s designed for acoustics,” Machen said. “When the sound goes up it hits the eyebrow and bounces back down.” In terms of decibels, Machen said the level “is going to be way, way up there.”

Filling in the concrete floor, which used to have a one-inch recess to house the old basketball floor, might not seem like a big task, but Machen said it was a “tricky pour” because it involved melding two different kinds of concrete. The pour had to be done on two separate occasions last week, and work still needs to be done around the edge to make it level.

Seats in the upper deck are scheduled to be installed by mid-July.

Seats in the upper deck are scheduled to be installed by mid-July.

The portable floor is scheduled to be delivered in late July. Unlike the previous floor, this one will be removed between games, and temporary carpeting will be put in place for other events, such as Chapel or concerts. It takes about 2½ hours to put the floor in place, a little less to pack it up.

In case you’re wondering, the floor won’t have an outlandish design like that of some other venues around the country. GCU’s new court will be similar to the old one, with the University logo in the middle.

After the construction work is completed, Machen said the next step is to make a “punch list,” which involves going over every inch of the Arena and identifying issues that need to be addressed. Once the dust settles, literally, from those touchups, an aggressive cleaning schedule is planned to get the Arena in shape for its next event, Chapel on Sept. 8.

Of course, an aggressive schedule is nothing new to Machen and his crew. It’s hard to believe that all this work has been completed in a little more than 100 days.

It’s not just the fact that it was done so quickly and smoothly. It’s also about quality. As Machen walks around the Arena, even he says things like, “Look at that – that’s good work right there” – and he’s inspecting it daily.

“It was a really, really tough schedule when you look at all the things that had to be done,” Machen said. “I’m very – I don’t want to use the word surprised – I’m very excited that we were able to meet a very tough deadline.”

Contact Rick Vacek at 602.639.8203 or rick.vacek@gcu.edu.

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2 Responses
  1. Marshall Militano

    My wife can’t wait to see the new Arena and start the Lopes basketball season. Looks great. Another great job by Robert Machen [remember US Airways Center?].

    Jun.28.2014 at 9:18 am
  2. Terry Z

    I cant wait to walk in our finished building on Oct. 25, 2014, when I graduate. Go Lopes!

    Jul.23.2014 at 9:01 am
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