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Saturday, June 15, 2024

O'Connell Center debuts $900,000 renovation

The Stephen C. O'Connell Center received a $900,000 facelift this summer that was unveiled to the public Saturday at UF's Football and Volleyball Fan Day.

David Lucier, assistant director of the O'Connell Center, said the largest renovation was the seating.

Motors on the bleachers were wearing out, so the first level of seating was removed and replaced with new bleachers.

Other changes included a handrail encircling the lower bowl that was added to comply with safety codes and a fresh coat of paint for the outside of the building.

"I think it's going to be a huge improvement to the building," Lucier said. "The fans are going to like it."

One such fan is Dillon Harrison, 36, who graduated from UF in 1996. Harrison traveled from the Jacksonville area to attend the event.

He said he liked the look of the new bleachers in the lower bowl of the building.

"Compared to when I was here, it looks a lot better," he said.

Work on the O'Connell Center began in mid-May and ended in the beginning of July.

Commencement ceremonies and a Jehovah's Witness conference were held after the renovations were completed, but Saturday's event was the real kickoff to the year, Lucier said.

Renovation fees were covered by the O'Connell Center's reserves, which come from revenue generated by the building.

No serious complications arose during the renovation process.

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Lucier said more changes could be in store for the center in the near future, such as replacing more seats, lighting systems, air conditioning units and flooring.

However, he said, those renovations fall under regular maintenance.

"There's always stuff that needs to be done," he said.

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