Updated Thu, Feb 13, 2014 3:59 pm
A few minor setbacks are expected to delay the opening of Ohio University’s Walter Fieldhouse by about a month, but officials say that construction is moving steadily ahead.
Harry Wyatt, OU associate vice president for architecture, design and construction, said Wednesday that an underground utility miscalculation, harsh winter weather and a delayed order for space-divider netting has pushed the projected opening date for the multipurpose facility back from May to June. Construction on the $12.5 million facility began in April 2013.
However, Wyatt said it’s not uncommon to run into such hiccups during large construction projects, particularly when dealing with underground utilities. Wyatt said there was a miscalculation in the location of the university’s steam line junction below ground, creating problems in getting heat to the multipurpose facility.
The unseasonably cold temperatures and snow also put a damper on the construction schedule, Wyatt said.
One additional delay was in the ordering of a drop-down netting system. Wyatt said the netting separates the facility into various sections so that more than one activity can take place in the building at one time.
“We had to design it very carefully. It had to be the right kind of netting to stop balls,” Wyatt said. “It took a while to make sure we got that order just right.”
Construction crews will also accommodate a four-week period of practice in the facility for the OU football team from the middle of April to the middle of May.
“That has an impact that delays work a little,” Wyatt said, but he noted that there was always discussion about trying to accommodate some partial occupancy of the building during construction.
Wyatt said most of the delays are understandable and that OU allowed an extra 5 percent in the project cost to cover such unforeseen circumstances.
“It’s something that you plan for,” he said. “We’ve not used up all of that contingency (money).”
The 89,000-square-foot facility is located between Peden Stadium and Ping Recreation Center on South Green Drive. Much of the funding for the project comes from a $10 million gift pledged by Bob and Peggy Walter in December 2010. Wyatt said the gift will be provided to the university over 10 years. Since the university is only receiving $2 million per year from the Walter gift, Wyatt said the university borrowed $10.5 million for the project, which is being paid back in part by a student fee.
“This is going to be a very exciting building to open,” Wyatt said. “It’s really amazing to see that space under one building.”