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Thursday, December 02, 2021

O’Connell Center renovations on schedule for completion


Renovations at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center will be completed this Fall in time for this year’s basketball season.

Over the summer, demolition finished for the main arena entrance and a concrete foundation for permanent seats on the second floor were installed, said Chip Howard, the University Athletic Association’s executive associate athletic director for internal affairs. Construction on the entrance, concession stands and seating area is ongoing.

The project will cost $64.5 million, Howard said.

According to a January Alligator article, the cost was previously reported as $53.7 million by UF spokespersons, who receive information from the UF planning, design and construction division. But Howard said the price has always been estimated to be $64.5 million.

Along with the entrance, additional space for gymnastic team locker rooms, offices and a dance studio is being added. The new sound system, video screen, flooring, lighting and energy-efficient electricity system will be completed in time for the first home basketball game Dec. 21, Howard said, bringing the arena up-to-date.

“It was 30-plus years old and really had not had a significant technological upgrade,” he said, “and now I think it stands as one of the best.”

UF student Miriam Brown said she didn’t realize it needed an update when construction began.

“I thought it was pretty nice already,” the 20-year-old UF health education and behavior senior said. “Hopefully it lives up to all the hype. It’s always nice to make something look brand new.”

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