The Pryor Times

Sports

March 27, 2012

NSU has plans for new gym

TAHLEQUAH — The farewell tour at Jack Dobbins Field House is set to commence in November.

Barring any setbacks, Northeastern State’s new event center on the north end of campus — just behind the south end zone of Doc Wadley Stadium — will open in August of 2013, and the RiverHawk basketball teams will have a new place to call home.

The wheels are in motion for Northeastern State to construct the $14.4 million multipurpose event center, after recently gaining approval from the regents of the Regional University System of Oklahoma.

“If it hasn’t already happened, bids on the various aspects of the building will go out,” said Tony Duckworth, NSU’s director of athletics. “And once those are finalized, that’s when construction will begin here in the next few weeks.”

Construction is slated to begin in late April, with completion 14 months down the road. The 78,000-square-foot facility will have a permanent seating capacity of 3,000 and will also feature six locker rooms, a video screening room, an athletics shop, a suite of offices for coaches and athletic staff, a ticket office and a room for athletic and alumni associations.

Unlike other facilities in the league (Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association) that NSU is set to join this summer, the RiverHawks’ event center won’t feature an indoor track.

“What you’re going to see with this facility is a much more traditional, basketball-only feel,” Duckworth said. “It will be really tight on the corners, and it will cause all the fans to have a great vantage point from any seat in the arena.”

One of the most excited people to see the event center making progress is men’s basketball coach Larry Gipson.

“It’s great for the basketball programs, but it’s also great for the university,” he said. “It’ll be a great centerpiece for the university and northeast Oklahoma.”

While Jack Dobbins Field House is still revered by many at the university and around the area, Gipson said the new event center will only enhance recruiting efforts in basketball and other programs.

“Recruiting has become very difficult, and Jack Dobbins Field House isn’t up to par with people that we play,” he said. “The new arena will put us in the top 10 percent of who we play.”

Other than floor plans and designs, the only thing left to settle with the event center is a name.

“We haven’t really had any extensive conversations like that,” Duckworth said. “I do know there have been conversations about certainly wanting to have some space there to recognize Dr. Dobbins and Jack Dobbins Field House. But in terms of naming the entire facility, none of those discussions have been finalized.”

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