Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex on track for August opening

With the construction countdown timer showing about six weeks to go, between 250 and 300 construction workers are now busy each day putting the finishing touches on the University of St. Thomas’ Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex.

Mark Vangsgard, vice president for business affairs and chief financial officer, said that the university expects to receive a certificate of occupancy for the complex on Aug. 6. On that date the contractors will turn the facility over to St. Thomas and the building can be entered without wearing hard hats or safety vests.

“That doesn’t mean we can begin using the building on Aug. 6, but it is an important milestone,” Vangsgard said. “That is the point where the building has passed its code inspections. After that date, there still will be a lot of activity as the final details are completed.

“It’s all starting to come together now,” he said. “As we approach the end of the project, there are countless details to complete, but limited decisions to make.”

He said that the complex will be available for the fall sports teams – football, volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer – by mid-August.  Although to be determined, it likely will be available to the balance of St. Thomas students, staff and faculty for general use about one week before the start of fall classes. Announcements regarding the guidelines for staff and faculty use will be made available prior to the opening of the athletic and recreation complex.

Construction of the $52 million, 180,000-square foot complex began in May 2009. At one point it was scheduled to open in October 2010 but moving up the demolition of O’Shaughnessy Hall and some good weather have helped the contractors finish their work in time for the start of fall semester.

Here’s what those 250 to 300 workers are busy doing this week:

  • Bleachers are being installed in the 2,000-seat basketball and volleyball arena, which is in the same general location as the former Schoenecker Arena. The wooden floor has been installed, and will receive its finish once the bleachers are completed.
  • They already have filled the aquatic center’s eight-lane pool and tested it for leaks.  It passed with no problems, so the pool was drained and after it is completely dry, the tiling and grouting will begin. “It’s very impressive; it looks like a huge lake when there’s water in there,” Vangsgard noted.
  • The flooring of the new field house and its 200-meter track is being installed this week.
  • Finishing touches are being completed on the fitness center and wood flooring is being laid in the aerobics rooms. Cardio and strength-training equipment won’t be moved in until after Aug. 6.
  • Walls are being Sheetrocked and painted this week in the classrooms and labs.

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The athletic complex is named for Lee and Penny Anderson who made a $60 million gift that helped fund three major projects: a 725-car parking facility that opened on south campus early in 2009, the athletic and recreation complex, and the student center which is now under construction at the corner of Summit and Cretin avenues.  The student center is scheduled to open in January of 2012.

The Andersons' gift – the largest single contribution by an individual or couple to a college or university in Minnesota – launched St. Thomas’ $500 million capital campaign, “Opening Doors,” in fall 2007.