O’Connell Center renovations postponed one year
Proposed renovations to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center originally scheduled to start in March have been postponed for one year, the University of Florida and the University Athletic Association announced Wednesday.
An aggressive schedule, escalating costs associated with the rehabilitation project and a change in the construction management team contributed to the decision. Current cost estimates for the project are approximately $60 million.
“The renovation proposal is a major renewal of one of our campus’s most iconic buildings. It’s incumbent on us to take the time and do it right,” UF President Kent Fuchs said.
The delay allows for the completion of the construction management team’s design plans, which currently are about 60 percent complete. A new construction manager has been brought in, and a construction schedule and budget should be forthcoming in the next couple of months.
The university is still assessing what effects the change will have on student, community and athletic events generally held in the O’Connell Center. Announcements will be made on any changes once information is confirmed.
UF‘s spring commencement ceremonies already scheduled to be held in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium will remain there.
All athletic team events typically held in the O’Connell Center are expected to continue without interruption for the 2015-16 season, including men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and gymnastics.
“We remain 100 percent committed to this project,” UF Athletics Director Jeremy Foley said. “The $60 million that we have already earmarked for the project is indicative of this commitment.”
Current plans call for a new entrance to 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 new high-definition video boards and 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 most of the money for the project, and fundraising will continue.
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.
Media Contact: Janine Sikes, 352-214-6807