MOSCOW, Idaho – Almost one year after construction began on the University of Idaho’s new basketball arena, the project reached a significant milestone.
Workers raised the first 35-foot wood column Friday, marking the start of the timber phase of the mostly wood facility.
The $51 million, multiuse Idaho Central Credit Union Arena – being erected on the north side of the Kibbie Dome – will be Idaho’s first dedicated basketball facility since Memorial Gym opened in 1928.
“The first wood column going in is kind of a major milestone for us, because there has been a ton of coordination with the Idaho forest product industry to have all these beams manufactured in Idaho, with Idaho timber,” said Guy Esser, UI’s facilities project manager for the arena project. “There’s been two years’ worth of planning that went into getting to this point. It’s nice to see all that effort pay off by seeing wood columns and beams start to go in on the site.”
Fans can see the facility’s progress on a live webcam feed of the construction site on UI’s ICCU webpage.
Notable are four concrete structures – two pillars, representing the north and south stair cores, and two flanking shear walls on the west side of the site, said David Shourd, on-site project manager.
“Those four concrete elements do really start to make up the footprint,” Shourd said.
Esser said the project is on track to be “substantially” complete at the end of August 2021, and fully operational in time for the 2021-22 basketball season.
Esser said there was a two-week span in March when construction continued with a limited crew because of confusion surrounding what was allowed under COVID-19 restrictions. But construction never stopped, and the crew hopes to make up for the slight delay in the coming months.
Shourd said they’ve worked closely with other subcontractor partners in the area to find ways to provide a safe working environment during the pandemic.
“We increased porta-potties, we brought in additional handwashing stations, we dedicated areas and porta-potties to specific subcontractors,” Shourd said. “All in all, we were able to maintain the project schedule, keep guys safe out there and now it’s kind of the new normal.”
Esser said the project during the next several months will focus on the wood portion of the structure. In total, there will be 854 Glulam beams, weighing 442 tons, combined. The largest weighs more than four tons and is 58 feet long.
By winter, the facility will have a roof in place.
Idaho men’s basketball head coach Zac Claus, who regularly drives by the facility, said it’s encouraging to see the progress during uncertain times in the sports world.
When it’s complete, the 4,200-seat arena will include an alumni center, and will be a venue for concerts, high school events, culture events and lectures, but primarily it will be the home for Idaho basketball.
“It’s something that we’re able to point to with our current players, with recruits – shoot, even within our staff – that this is something that’s going to be an unbelievable addition to our campus and community,” Claus said.
“(We) just can’t wait to ultimately move in there and have the opportunity to play, practice, work out, and just reap all the benefits that it’s going to bring.”
Among the benefits is being able to showcase the facility project to incoming recruits – something Claus took advantage of when he wrapped up his recruiting class in May.
“The kids that we’re recruiting right now, they’re going to have an opportunity to play in that new ICCU Arena,” Claus said. “It’s something we obviously accentuate and talk about: ‘This is going to be your home court.’ … they’re all very excited.”
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