IUP opens new arena, conference center
Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex interior at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
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INDIANA, Pa. -- Standing courtside, as he waited to join others in a ribbon-cutting ceremony, State System of Higher Education Chancellor John Cavanaugh called the place "a game-changer" for the Indiana region.
David Werner, interim president of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, looked toward the rafters as he summed up in one word his feeling about the new arena next to campus: "Wow!"
The public this afternoon got its first look at the newly completed Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex, a $79 million venue with a 5,000-seat arena built by IUP.
Local members of Congress and other elected officials as well as university representatives joined several hundred others for a grand opening at 4 p.m., celebrating what community leaders predict will be a cultural and economic boost to the Indiana region.
Visitors walked the concourses, sat in arena seats and noshed on free food that included nachos, cake and other refreshments. The school's cheerleaders, a mascot and a member of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team helped to enliven the crowd, some of whom clearly were awe-struck by the facility.
"It's beautiful," said Carol Bevlin, of White Township, who came to the opening with her husband, Ron, who agreed the arena would be an ecomonic boom to the area.
The center next to campus is expected to host nearly 140 events a year such as concerts and other kinds of entertainment, IUP spokeswoman Michelle Fryling said. A March 10 appearance by the Globetrotters will be the first ticketed event, and other shows already planned range from the Steve Miller Band with Gregg Allman to circus performances by Ringling Bros.
Campus sporting and other university events including May commencement also will be held at the center.
The complex is named for the Kovalchick family of Indiana, who gave $2 million toward the development. The project broke ground in November 2008 and was completed three months ahead of schedule.
Officials are predicting the 150,000-square-foot development -- the county's largest venue -- will generate $12.5 million annually to the area economy.
The building houses a 650-seat auditorium and 17,000 square feet of conference space, plus a corporate training and executive conference center.
The ceremony took place on the arena's basketball court, which sports a border with the school's signature crimson color.
"This is a fantastic facility for this university and the community," Mr. Cavanaugh said. "This is going to attract not just IUP sports, buit also regional events and other opportunities."
Early on, the state pledged $21 million toward the project, and last year, the State System agreed to issue $34 million in debt to finish the work. The university and its foundation have so far raised approximately $15 million toward the project, Ms. Fryling said, and IUP is paying $2.1 million annually in debt service for the bond issue.
The facility is managed, marketed and operated by Global Spectrum, a subsidiary of Comcast-Spectacor.
First Published March 4, 2011 12:00 am