Event center concepts unveiled

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Event center concepts unveiled

Architectural designs for a multipurpose event center featuring 16,500 seats and a 150-foot¬high clock tower were unveiled to the California State University, Fresno campus community today.

Faculty and staff viewed a three-dimensional video “fly-through” and concept designs for the Save Mart Center planned for construction on the southeast corner of campus. The vivid designs included exterior elevations, the site plan, the bowl configuration, and interior views of lobby, concourse and dining areas.

Architect Don Dethlefs said the 10-story-high Save Mart Center, featuring a “classic collegiate” design with a California-style tile roof, will serve as a bold and attractive gateway to the southeast entry of campus.

As currently designed, it also would be California’s largest indoor event center between Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in September, and the ambitious target opening date is November 2001.

University President John Welty said that a total construction cost has not yet been calculated, but that it would exceed $60 million.

In January the university announced that it could build an event center for about $60 million, but when the concept architectural firm of Sink Combs Dethlefs was hired in August it was encouraged to design a facility that incorporated the wish lists of many campus and community groups. The resulting conceptual design is for a “world-class” facility, Welty said.

Whether the university can build the entire, 600,000-square-foot complex as currently designed will be determined over the next few months, Fresno State officials said. During that time the university will obtain detailed cost estimates for each element of the plan and will also get a clear picture of how much money can be raised.

The Save Mart Center will be built primarily with private funds. In January the university secured a corporate sponsorship deal with Pepsi-Cola and Save Mart Supermarkets that would contribute about $40 million to the project over 20 years. Additional corporate sponsors and major donors currently are being sought, and a campaign to sell personal seat licenses will be launched in the spring. Funds will also be raised through the sale of 30 luxury suites and 2,500 premium “club” seats.

The fund drive is being headed by Fresno business leaders Bob Duncan and Ed Kashian, who are confident that the necessary support will be raised from throughout Central California.

The university also announced that Salomon Smith Barney of Fresno has been selected as the bond underwriter for the project. A bond issuance will be necessary to help fund the event center in its initial stages. Karney Hodge, vice president of public finance for the firm, said the Fresno-area community will be given the first opportunity to invest in the tax exempt bonds.

The Save Mart Center would be the new home for Fresno State basketball and volleyball and would also host such events as concerts, family shows, big-name speakers, equestrian events, indoor soccer, NCAA tournament basketball games, and graduation ceremonies. The current design also includes high-tech classrooms, a digital communications studio, dining areas, athletic department offices and practice facilities.