Idaho Central Credit Union Arena has begun the construction phase with the turning of shovels today, June 6, on the University of Idaho campus.
University of Idaho President Chuck Staben, ICCU CEO Kent Oram, U.S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen, interim Athletic Director Pete Isakson and others turned dirt at the site of the future multipurpose arena north of the ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center in Moscow.
Construction will follow today’s ceremony, with the 4,200-capacity arena slated to open in 2021 as home court for Vandal basketball programs and campus and community events. A packed house of more than 100 people, including members of the Vandal Spirit Squad, Joe Vandal, the ICCU Share Bear and Smokey Bear, were on hand for the ceremony.
“A modern, well-equipped facility sends a clear message to student-athletes,” Staben said during the ceremony. “This facility will help us consistently recruit outstanding student-athletes and maintain the Division I excellence we have every right to expect as Vandals.”
The engineered wood mass-timber facility has been envisioned at U of I for the past 50 years. The bidding and construction phase of the arena was approved earlier this spring by the Idaho State Board of Education.
Thursday’s ceremony had echoes of the construction of the university’s original basketball facility, Isakson said.
"In 1928 we opened Memorial Gymnasium, a state-of-the-art basketball facility. It housed many things beyond basketball: dances, concerts, graduations and much more,” Isakson said. “The neat thing is, how many memories has that created. Ninety-one years later we're going to do that again and we’re going to do that here."
Planning for the 62,000-square-foot arena includes wood industry partners from across the state who are taking part in the project as an example of what can be done in the realm of modern wood construction. Christiansen said U of I is out front when it comes to such building.
“This is an Idaho project,” added Dennis Becker, dean of the U of I College of Natural Resources. “This is Idaho wood that we’re harvesting off the mountain that is going to Idaho companies with Idaho employees to build this arena right here at the University of Idaho. That’s amazing.”
The $51 million facility offers a gathering place for future generations of students, athletes, faculty, staff, alumni and friends in the Vandal Family. ICCU donated $10 million to the project and has naming rights to the arena for 35 years. Other key donations of $2.5 million sponsor the practice gym and the performance floor.