Major Mackey overhaul approved

Associated
Press

Purdue

University
is moving ahead with a planned $82
million overhaul of Mackey Arena, which would include building practice, sports
medicine, conditioning and office facilities around its existing shell.

The
school’s trustees on Friday approved hiring HNTB Architecture of Kansas City to
design the project updating the 40-year-old basketball arena.

Athletics director
Morgan Burke said the planned project would cost one-third as much as building
a new arena and would eliminate the need to build two other new athletic
facilities.

“This
project will bring Mackey Arena into the 21st century in regards to amenities
while preserving the history and tradition of the building,” he said.

The
project would keep the arena essentially the same inside, but reduce its
capacity by some 800 seats to about 13,300. Mackey, which was built at a cost
of $6 million, is home to the Purdue men’s and women’s basketball teams and
houses practice facilities and offices for several other sports teams.

Purdue
officials expect to pay for the project with money from the new cable TV Big
Ten Channel, private donations and increased concessions revenue. Construction
work is expected to start in 2009 and be completed by the start of the 2011-12
basketball season.

Men’s
basketball coach Matt Painter said the renovation will improve Mackey’s
atmosphere for fans and help in recruiting players.

“One
of the best aspects of this renovation is that the integrity of the arena will
remain the same,” he said. “This plan is integrating state-of-the-art
facilities and still preserving the tradition of the past.”

A
three-story structure planned for north of Mackey is to include a strength
training facility about four times larger than the existing weight room and a
new basketball practice center with a full-size court and three breakout
shooting areas.

Inside the
arena, plans call for the concourse to be enlarged to about twice its current
width, the number of concession sites to increase from 12 to 48 and for a
tripling in the number of restroom facilities for women.

The
school’s Grand Prix track, two football practice fields and a nearby parking
lot are being moved to make room for the new buildings.