MOSCOW – Long wooden rafters in a unique curved free-form structure at a pristine basketball site that looked game-ready on Wednesday as University of Idaho administrators held a media tour of the news Idaho Central Credit Union Arena, which is nearing completion.
“I still have goosebumps,” said Dennis Becker, dean of the IU College of Natural Resources, of the experience of entering the arena. “I just want to touch the wood; I want to hug him; I want to feel it.
The text “WELCOME TO ICCU ARENA” scrolled across a set of four video screens – two flat, two with a concave arch – above center court. The light wood frame of the spacious building provided the characteristic golden hue of the Vandals, while the gray cement floor and black seats complemented the school’s colors. Separated by a wall of retractable seating was a more austere training ground, while various glass balconies overlooked the heart of the facility.
School administrators touted the economic benefits of the project to the area – with wood and other locally sourced building materials – and how the student body had been involved and aware of the construction process, as students of architecture, civil engineering, soil and more. -on experience and educational opportunities.
“It’s really an Idaho project,” Becker said.
Architect Guy Esser estimated that the arena can accommodate up to 4,000 fans for matches, and perhaps 4,500 for events such as concerts and conferences that do not require exploring the entire space of the main basketball court.
A center court logo transplanted from the former Cowan Spectrum floor can be seen at the entrance to the building’s Idaho Administration Club Basketball Center, and other Spectrum elements can be found in places such as the ceiling of the men’s locker rooms. The directors intend these features to preserve the warmth and sight elements of the previous venue as the program moves into its new, state-of-the-art home.
The athletes, some of whom gathered on the tour for light shooting practice, photoshoots and interviews, expressed enthusiasm for the venue as did the school officials.
“We’ve seen the pictures, but even coming here in person it’s 10 times better,” said Sydney Gandy, second-year girls’ basketball goalie. “… I think just having this beautiful arena is going to uplift the crowd and the energy for the games.”
Redshirt junior Trevante Anderson, a transfer from San Francisco, cited the arena’s “demo photos and promos” as one of his selling points for taking the step, but was still stunned when the time came recently to start training there.
“No comparison to when you actually got out here, when you got on the pitch,” he said. “I would definitely say it exceeded expectations, just the feeling here; I can’t wait to play in front of the fans.
First-year goaltender Ethan Kilgore called the venue “the most unique arena in the country”, and senior goalkeeper Nolan Bertain also said it was “the most beautiful I have seen in the country”.
The Vandal men will play their first home contest at ICCU Arena on October 29 against Evergreen State College in an exhibit, and the women will host in San Diego on November 14.