Randy York's N-Sider
John Ingram gave Nebraska media a glimpse Friday of what the Bob Devaney Sports Center will look like when it becomes the new home for Husker volleyball, wrestling and men’s and women’s gymnastics this fall. NU’s associate athletic director for Capital Planning and Construction opened the Devaney Center doors so media members could see one of five new ceiling trusses being installed.
The up-close and personal view of one of Nebraska’s most important transformations was a timely photo op. It gave everyone a chance to see what I see – a facility that somehow has gotten lost in the shuffle of the newly expanded East Memorial Stadium for football and the newly built Pinnacle Bank Arena for basketball.
Don’t get me wrong. One site will be celebrating its 90th anniversary in October, and the other will begin life as a true heavyweight on Lincoln’s burgeoning downtown skyline. But make no mistake. A transformed Devaney Center gets its own “WOW!” from the N-Sider. It deserves equally elevated status in a Nebraska athletic facility trinity that takes a backseat to no one, and I’ll let you in on a little secret that’s been burning inside Ingram’s mind for the better part of a year.
Ingram Most Excited about Devaney Center
“I’ve been excited about all three major construction projects for a long time,” Ingram told me, “but I’ll be honest. I’m most excited about the transformation of the Devaney Center from a 37-year-old facility that had fallen behind the times to a world-class venue for wrestling, men's and women's gymnastics and volleyball. It’s going to change the game for all four teams.”
Yes, volleyball became almost invincible inside NU’s Coliseum, averaging only one conference loss a year through nearly four decades. The Coliseum’s confines were loud, inspiring and intimidating. But wait until crowds almost twice as big flock inside the renovated Devaney where the capacity will be just under 8,000. "Talk about a home-court advantage,” Ingram said.
Coliseum crowds have produced 12 consecutive seasons of home sellouts – a streak that is the longest in the history of any NCAA women’s sport and one that will continue because Husker volleyball has done what Big Red football and men’s basketball also have done: Sold out every seat in the building in advance.
“Look at this beautiful structure,” Ingram said, pointing to five 20-foot triangulated red steel trusses engineered to connect at the joints and lower the ceiling of a once cavernous building.
Standing-Room-Only Will Provide Great Views
The remodeled Devaney Center is about 80 percent complete and is "on track" for its full public unveiling Aug. 24 in the Huskers' annual preseason scrimmage. Fans will see a cost effective solution that blends tradition with new and compelling fan amenities and design. The arena will feature five corporate suites, adjacent to volleyball coach John Cook’s office and a large conference room. On the north and south sides near the top of the building will be two large video screens. In addition, standing room only areas around the top of the building will provide great views of the action.
Ingram said the south side of the new Devaney will include bricks from the Coliseum and a space that will include a two-story atrium and the south entrance plaza that will be completed prior to the 2014 season.
“It’s been fun transforming a basketball facility into what we think will be a world-class venue for three different sports and four teams,” Ingram said.
At Nebraska, all four teams which will compete in the Devaney Center have a deep history that includes championship teams, All-American student-athletes and Olympic gold and silver medalists, and all four teams’ accomplishments and history will be acknowledged in the new displays.
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