Arena slowly taking shape

Construction crew back on schedule after spring rains caused delays.
Tuesday, September 16, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:17 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

The University of Missouri’s new arena looks like something between a giant hole in the ground and an abandoned interpretation of the Coliseum.

The concourse looks down into a mud hole. Steel trusses jut in different directions. Ladders are the only connection between levels. Wood beams support and divide the club level from the main concourse level from the suite level.

The $75 million dollar arena behind Hearnes Center, financed by a mixture of private donations, state bond money and athletic department investment income, will seat about 15,000 fans, offer an array of luxury suites, two clubs and a separate practice gym. About 2,600 student seats will hang over the visiting team’s locker room.

The student section will stretch behind the west basket. The section is being built at a steeper incline than the rest of the arena in an attempt to fit more students and create a rowdier environment. The hope is for an arena that mixes the wildness of older, rickety basketball houses like Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse with all the amenities of contemporary sports venues.

The athletic department is so confident in the students’ ability to be rowdy, it isn’t building backs to the student section’s seats.

Arena Ready Next Fall

Although spring rains slowed construction, the arena is on schedule and should be ready by fall of 2004.

“We were behind schedule starting out,” said Shannon Burrow, construction site superintendent. “We’re still a little bit behind because of the weather we had earlier this spring. Coming out of the hole is always a tough time with rain.”

The hole is, of course, the court. To get back on schedule, J.E. Dunn Construction Co. employed 100-110 workers 10 hours a day, six days a week through the summer. The construction crew has returned to a five-day workweek.

“We try to limit it now just because of the fact that people wear down after so much,” Burrow said. “It gets real tiring. Especially the heat we had here. A month or so ago it was real tiring.”

If all goes well, the roof trusses will begin to go up by the middle of November, and the crew will start putting the roof on by the beginning of next year. When the roof goes up, electricians will begin wiring the arena. Burrow said he expects 40 or so electricians will be needed to keep the construction on schedule.

The arena is being built on a ravine, which has created design challenges.

“From a design aspect, what is interesting is the arena is set on a site where we’re digging the east end of the site out of rock, and when you get to the west end of the practice court, we’re filling it up,” Design Engineer John Weiskopf said.

Chuck Poston, a sophomore civil engineering major, is excited that he will be able to experience the arena before he graduates.

“I was thinking how the roof was built with the buttresses was interesting,” he said. “But for me personally, I’m going to get to enjoy this stadium.”

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