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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Construction won't stop events at Pan Am Center this fall

New Mexico State University's Pan American Center will undergo a major renovation beginning in October, but construction is expected to have minimal impact on events scheduled in the arena this fall.

e scheduled event, December's NMSU commencement, has been moved. Commencement will be held at Aggie Memorial Stadium Dec. 10.

Other activities, such as NMSU basketball and volleyball games, will continue as scheduled at the Pan Am Center. The basketball season continues through late March 2006.

The Mariachi Conference, which takes place in various locations throughout Las Cruces during the week of Nov. 7, will hold its Spectacular Concert in the Pan Am Center Nov. 12 and its mass Nov. 13.

The Memorial Medical Center Holiday Hoopla, which takes place Dec. 28 and 29 at area high schools, will move its final day of the tournament to the Pan Am Center Dec. 30.

Men's and women's basketball games will continue to be played in the Pan Am Center in the spring semester. However, there will be no other events scheduled in the arena.

NMSU has a total project budget of $22.9 million. Construction bids will be opened Sept. 13 with construction scheduled to begin Oct. 11.

When the construction is complete, the Pan Am Center will have a new concourse with concessions, restrooms, merchandising areas and other amenities.

The concourse will be moved from the interior of the arena bowl to the exterior, said Will Lofdahl, NMSU director of special events. This will allow a more efficient flow of people throughout the facility and they will be able to get to their seats more easily.

An annex on the south side of the Pan Am Center will provide office space for coaches and administrative staff as well as a practice court for the basketball and volleyball teams.

Electrical and plumbing systems will be modernized.

Upgrades specifically designed to address the needs of the disabled will also be provided.

Construction is expected to take about a year.

"We look forward to the completion of the Pan American Center project in the fall of 2006 and are excited about the opportunity that the renovation will provide," said Lofdahl.

Additionally, new locker rooms for visiting teams will double as rooms for celebrities who come in for special events. NMSU's Special Events Department will have new offices.

First aid and security stations will be improved.

A new hospitality room will also be built.

An elevator in the south lobby will provide access to court level.

Once construction begins, the parking lot south of the Pan Am Center, which had been reserved for Aggie Sports Association (now Aggie Athletics Fund or AAF) donors, will be closed. However, the university is working on the best parking configuration to accommodate AAF donors who have priority parking benefits, said Brian Faison, assistant vice president for athletics advancement.

"This will give us a Pan Am Center that will be significantly improved," said Michael Rickenbaker, university architect and director of facilities planning and construction. He adds that the facility will meet ADA requirements.

Richard Kaselow, assistant university architect who is also with facilities planning and construction, added that the NMSU community will not be the only ones benefiting from the renovation. "Everyone in the community has a stake in this project."