Case Studies

Towson Tiger Arena: The Next Generation of Higher Education Athletics

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Maryland’s Towson University (Towson) kicked off 2012 with a period of renewal. The university welcomed Dr. Maravene Loescheke as its 13th president in January 2012, launched a new public educational program for student teachers, opened the mock-trading floor at the T. Rowe Price Finance Lab, and maintained its place as one of the Best Buy Colleges on Forbes list of the top 100 colleges in the country.

Towson moved to ensure both academic and extracurricular programs would have the resources needed to form a well-rounded Towson graduate. The university spent 2012 overseeing a number of capital improvement projects, including the construction of an $11 million campus gateway along Towson Boulevard, which opened in 2012. The university also took on the construction of a $7 million Public Safety Building, in addition to $20.5 million in renovations to two of the campus’ oldest residence halls.

Perhaps the most visible of all campus renewal efforts is the construction of the Tiger Arena. The brand new $68 million indoor sport arena is adjacent to Towson Center, the current home of Towson University’s basketball, gymnastics and volleyball teams. Towson Center was built in 1976, and by 2008 Towson determined the cost of maintaining the structure would be higher than building a newer and more efficient arena. The university moved instead to create a state-of-the-art multipurpose arena to complement and consolidate its athletic facilities.

A Growing Presence

Towson maintains a bullish sustainability policy. Towson also holds the honor of being named one of the most environmentally conscious universities in the nation from 2009 to 2012, as ranked by the Princeton Review. Instead of demolishing Towson Center, the university opted to convert it for use as a practice facility and event space once the new Towson Tiger Arena is complete, while also overhauling the building’s mechanical systems and completing a total renovation to the building’s lower levels.

The basement’s storage areas were completely renovated and reorganized to expand the university’s sports medicine center and create an all-new women’s locker room. Some athletic storage will remain, but the renovation’s major achievement is the creation of a walkway that links Towson Center, the university’s softball facility and the new Towson Tiger Arena.

“We’re not just trying to give the students a new arena, we’re trying to make sure student athletes have better access to all the athletic facilities,” says Corey Sarver, senior project manager at Gilbane Building Co. (Gilbane). Towson selected the Rhode Island-based company to oversee the project as construction manager, having already collaborated with Gilbane for the expansion and overhaul of its Center for the Arts, which was also built in the 1970s. Gilbane numbers amongst the leading family-owned construction management firms in the nation with over 130 years of experience. Above all, the team at Gilbane prides itself on upholding the company’s reputation for bringing a comprehensive level of understanding to every project, backed by a reflexive, client-oriented approach.

In turn, Gilbane employees challenge one another to tackle projects with multiple logistical challenges, projects that often require a little more attention to ensure progress doesn’t come at the expense of quality, safety or the productivity of tenants in nearby buildings. In the case of Towson’s Center for the Arts Building, Gilbane opted to schedule construction of the 122,000-square foot addition prior to beginning renovation work, minimizing the disruption to the Towson staff.

Moving Right Along

Similarly, Gilbane took great care to split the renovations at Towson Center into two separate phases so as not to disrupt the athletic department’s administrative staff, the sports medicine department or the student athletes. In the meantime, crews wasted no time before beginning work on the new Tiger Arena.

When completed, Tiger Arena will seat a total of 5,200 patrons, including 120 courtside seats. A full 340 seats will be available for fans in a premium lodge club and 60 more seats will be set aside for luxury box suites. The arena will also host a state-of-the-art scoreboard and video screen system and a full-loaded multimedia studio, to be completed in May 2013.

The pressure is on for Gilbane and the Tiger Arena team to stick to that completion date. The university launched a website counting down the days until completion, as well as a live webcam to stream progress in real time. Towson also signed a deal with CBS Collegiate Sport Properties (CBS) giving CBS 20 percent of the arena’s revenue in exchange for it taking on all organization of sponsorship opportunities.

As of August 2012, though, the Tiger Arena team was well on its way to deliver the project on time. “We have an extensive prequalification process for all of our subtrades, so even though I have only personally worked with a few of our primary contractors before, all of our subcontractors in the project have worked with Gilbane before,” expands Sarver.

In the meantime, Towson University will continue marketing the arena’s naming rights and preparing for opening day. Once completed, the team will further solidify Gilbane Building Co.’s presence in the Mid-Atlantic region and ensure the future of Towson University’s thriving athletics programs.

Published on: March 13, 2013

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