Story by Bailey Berg
Photo Courtesy of Drake Athletics
For much of the winter, the project was not much more than a large hole in the ground. In early March, the steel and walls started going up.
Kevin Butts, the senior project manager for The Weitz Company, said there have only been a few minor setbacks to production, but nothing they couldn’t handle.
“We had a little problem due to the frost coming out of the ground under our gravel access road to the site,” Butts said. “The big, heavy trucks bringing all the pre-cast concrete wall panels — which are 57,000 pounds each — were getting stuck in the ground.”
Butts said he is hoping the temperatures stay low for a few more weeks so that doesn’t occur again.
“I’m probably the only person in Des Moines hoping for that,” Butts said.
However, Butts said the company already has plans for any upcoming spring showers, so he does not foresee any reason for the project not to be completed on time.
Head men’s basketball coach Ray Giacoletti said he is excited to see what the new facility will bring as it finally takes shape.
“The facility is being built to enhance the ability for the men’s and women’s basketball programs at Drake to improve their overall skill level and development,” Giacoletti said. “This will be a huge boost for each program as they prepare to play in the extremely tough Missouri Valley Conference.”
Giacoletti said another goal of the new facility is to attract more top-level student athletes to Drake.
Sandy Hatfield-Clubb, director of Drake athletics, said the addition is good for all Drake students, not just athletes.
“Bottom line is we don’t have enough court space to serve all of our students at Drake,” Hatfield Clubb said. “This will allow all students to have that much-needed access.”
After the addition of the new practice facility for the basketball team, the Bell Center will be reserved primarily for general student recreation, intramurals and club sports, and the Knapp Center will be reallocated as the primary practice space for the volleyball team.
The $8 million endeavor will include two new basketball courts, a locker room and team room for each basketball squad, a video-viewing room and a large hospitality area that will be used for game-related activities and by the university for banquets and other activities.
Hatfield Clubb said the goal is to have all the exterior work done before Relays weekend to “ensure the least amount of disruption to the flow of that event.”
The project is projected to be finished no later than Oct. 1.