Towson plans new $45.4 million arena

June 19, 2008|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun reporter

Towson University has scrapped plans to renovate 32-year-old Towson Center and instead wants to build a $45.4 million multi-use arena that could open by July 2011.

As decisions go, this switch was easy.

"Once the architects started looking at it, they brought us the proposition that a new building would be a much better building in terms of what we'd get, and it'd also be a little less expensive than renovating," said James P. Sheehan, vice president for administration and finance at Towson.

Under the direction of university president Robert L. Caret, Towson had planned for a $30 million renovation of the Towson Center in late 2006. But in making architectural choices, it became apparent there were limitations in renovation.

"We had to decide whether we wanted a building that was acceptable, or one that we really, really liked," Sheehan said. "We went with one we really, really liked."

One projected amenity in the new building is an electronic scoreboard that will hang over the middle of the basketball floor, a detail not possible in the old building because of the low height of the roof. The new arena will seat slightly more than 5,000 and include video screens, entertainment suites and expanded lobbies.

Sheehan said the new arena will be next to - and connected with - Towson Center. The old building will still house the basketball locker rooms, and players will go through a tunnel to reach the court.

The university will still use Towson Center as a practice facility and for classroom and event space.

A combination of university funds and auxiliary bonds will finance the project, which needs approval from Towson's board of regents and the board of public works. Sheehan said the total funding should be formally approved in a meeting tomorrow.

A university release said the $45.4 million projected cost could change once specific design plans are made and a construction company is selected. Construction could begin by July 2009.

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