O’Connell Center design work to begin soon, construction slated to start in March
GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- Preliminary design work is about to get underway for the renovation of the University of Florida’s 33-year-old O’Connell Center.
The university is in the process of choosing a firm to design the project, which is expected to begin in March 2015 and conclude in December 2015, said Bahar Armaghani, assistant director and project manager for UF’s Office of Planning, Design and Construction.
As currently envisioned, the most visible piece of the $45 million project would be the creation of a prominent main entrance on the building’s east side between gates 1 and 2 to serve as a focal point. The O’Connell Center currently has four gates, but none is a distinct entry way.
The new entrance would serve as an open circulation area and would house ticketing and retails sales areas. In addition, the renovation would provide new concessions stands, club seating and a club lounge, as well as a new concourse that would allow guests to more easily navigate the facility.
The installation of new chair-back seats would provide guests with more comfortable seating, and a center-hung, high-definition video board and new sound system would further improve the fan experience.
Finally, the building’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems would be updated to improve comfort and reduce energy consumption. All offices and locker rooms will be renovated.
Through private funding, the University Athletic Association will provide $35 million for the project, and the remaining $10 million will come from the university.
O’Connell Center and athletic association staff are working to relocate events that normally would be held in the O’Connell Center during construction, said O’Connell Center Director Lynda Reinhart.
Opened in 1981, the O’Connell Center seats 11,548 and has been the venue for athletic events, commencement ceremonies, shows, concerts and a host of other university and community events over the years.