Liberty Builds for the Future With Several Construction Projects
Behind the fenced-off barriers, cement mixers and cranes on campus is a diligent team of construction personnel working around the clock to complete various construction projects.
This semester has been particularly busy for Liberty’s construction teams, with numerous projects in progress on campus. With so much work to be done, a number of construction personnel are logging upwards of 80 hours per week, according to Construction Project Manager Rocky Fowler.
With so many projects still to be done, Dan Deter, vice president of major construction, says the motivating factor to keep going is seeing the finished product and the student’s appreciation.
“The number one thing that keeps us going is when we do get the opportunity to open these buildings and open these venues and see the students’ reaction and see that the students are just blown away when they come in,” Deter said.
To get an update on the work being completed on campus, the Liberty Champion sat down with Deter to get a progress report on each major project.
Once completed, the Liberty Arena will be the new home of men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball. With a 4,000-seat capacity, Deter said, students will enjoy an enhanced gameday experience and a close-up view of the action on the court.
The seats in the new arena are placed at a steeper angle, giving students more of an overhead view of the court.
“When we have all our screaming students in there cheering on our teams, (the new arena) will give a more intimate view (and) an intimate feeling when you’re inside,” Deter said.
To create a better fan experience, Deter said the construction team carefully considered the design of the venue to address needed upgrades. One area of distinct concern was with the placement of concession stands. Deter and his team strategically planned the placement of concessions to ensure fans would still be able to see the game when they got up to order a snack.
The arena will also feature an array of new tech, including an updated scoreboard and a new ribbon board that will circle the top of the arena. Currently, Liberty is one of only a handful of schools using this kind of video board.
“We tried to make ourselves a step ahead of everybody else that’s doing arenas in the country. … We’ve really tried to focus on the fan experience,” Deter said.
The new arena is scheduled for completion at the end of October, but the date of the grand opening is still under discussion. As the basketball schedule remains largely undetermined due to COVID-19, it could still be months before students set foot inside.
Just next door to the new arena, construction teams are working to replace the roof of the Vines Center and redesign parts of its interior.
According to Deter, the Vines roof has been in disrepair for some time now. During rainy days, Deter joked that it rained “inside and outside of the Vines” when the old roof was in place.
The new roof will provide adequate protection while also matching the more traditional architecture of the rest of the campus. From the inside, students will notice that the Vines roof is lower and flatter.
In addition to the external renovations, the interior design of Vines will also receive an upgrade. The old wooden floors and sports flags will be replaced with more neutral and modern décor. Rather than keeping the sports theme in the Vines, Deter said the construction team is transforming the Vines Center into a concert and event space.
“The Vines Center wants to be more of a concert venue, a Convocation venue, a multi-purpose events venue, not necessarily athletics,” Deter said.
East Campus Parking Garage
Just last weekend, the new nine-story parking garage opened on East Campus. The 2,100 space garage was created to meet the campus-wide need for more parking and provide a space for university guests to park with easy access to main campus.
Deter said when construction managers discussed the building plans for the new garage, they wanted to ensure that the garage would allow easy access to the main campus via the East Campus tunnel. The parking garage, created for commuter students and faculty, has elevators that open to the entrance of the garage and funnel out near the entrance of the Vines Center.
As construction crews march closer to the completion of these projects, Fowler said seeing the final product makes all the long hours worth while.
“Working many hours and then watching it unfold at the last minute and having the new facility for everyone to come in is an amazing experience,” Fowler said.
Madi Hirneisen is a News Reporter. Follow her on Twitter at @MadiHirneisen.