Event Center weeks from completion

By Staff

In what looked to be a giant game of Jenga, contractors recently assembled 13,000 square feet of hardwood floors as the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Event Center moved closer to its official opening at 4 p.m. Jan. 22.

But it was no child's game. The pine planks are the foundation for everything from Mountain Lion athletics to convocation or an oversized wedding reception.

"The floor actually floats, just a bit," said Jim Martin, construction manager with GH Phipps Construction. "The vapor barrier that's between the wood and the concrete could actually line a pond it's so tough."

The "give" is intentional, providing space for soil expansion as well as providing a shock absorber for the joints of Mountain Lion basketball and volleyball players. But the new Event Center isn't just about improving the campus athletic venue — although UCCS likely will shake its title of smallest gym in the NCAA as game seating jumps from 420 to 1,224.

A back room will store hundreds of pieces of carpet tile. In about 20 hours, the hardwoods can give way to semi-plush carpet, enabling a banquet hall for 700 guests.

"This building truly is designed to maximize our event opportunities," said Susan Szpyrka, associate vice chancellor, administration and finance. "Everything is flexible here — the goals, the lighting, the seating. It's all designed to serve the university's many and varied needs."

Szpyrka promises an exciting grand opening ceremony that will launch both a new venue for Mountain Lion sports and a reinvigorated conference business, part of a plan to boost UCCS revenues.