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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Public invited to tour Pan Am Center Nov. 5

Special sneak preview tours of the newly renovated Pan American Center will be given to the general public between noon and 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5. University staff members and students will serve as tour guides, pointing out the many modifications or additions that have been made since the upgrades began Oct. 10, 2005. The south lobby and everything below the concourse will be closed during the tours. Visitors will enter through the east doors of the new Pan Am Center Annex, on the south side of the Pan Am Center.

"Even though the work is ongoing, we want to allow the public to share our excitement in anticipation of what we will have once the renovation is completed," said Ben Woods, senior vice president for planning, physical resources and university relations.

Some of the improvements include a new concourse, more concession stands, more restrooms, two elevators providing access from the south lobby to court level, new ADA-compliant seating and handrails on the concourse and court levels, additional chair back seating, new practice facilities and locker rooms for NMSU basketball and volleyball teams, new dressing facilities for musical stars and other performers, and new offices for coaches, Special Events staff and emergency medical technicians.

"We look forward to reopening the Pan American Center and showcasing the upgraded amenities," added Will Lofdahl, director of special events. "I sincerely believe the community will like what it sees."

"We had to wait until the final basketball game last season before we could tear out the locker rooms in the southwest quadrant and start working in that area," said Michael Rickenbaker, university architect and director of facilities planning and construction. "But now the public will see a hugely improved facility. We're not finished yet, but we're very proud of what we have accomplished so far."

The NMSU men's basketball team will play an exhibition game Nov. 9 against St. Mary's of Texas at Las Cruces High School. However, the Pan Am Center should be ready to host the first regular season home game, Nov. 14 against Pacific. A centrally hung scoreboard, featuring state-of-the-art video capabilities and made possible with funding from Gov. Bill Richardson, should be available for the Lou Henson Classic, scheduled Dec. 1 and 2, Woods said.

Renovation is expected to be complete in January 2007, allowing NMSU to showcase the facility two months later during one of the biggest events to ever hit Las Cruces - the March 2007 Western Athletic Conference basketball tournament.

SMPC Architects and general contractor Jaynes Corporation are working on the project.