Tutor Perini Building Corp. is expanding Grand Canyon University Arena’s seating capacity from approximately 4,300 to 7,000 seats. The expansion takes place just two and a half years after Tutor Perini originally built the arena. The most challenging part of the renovation is the aggressive 190-day deadline put in place to meet previously booked university events.
According to Brian Mueller, Grand Canyon University’s president and CEO, the idea to renovate the arena came about when GCU switched to NCAA Division l athletics and the men’s basketball games routinely sold out in the first year of competition. Expanded seating will attract nationally recognized NCAA Division l teams and accommodate the 10,500 students expected to be enrolled on the ground next fall. More seating also allows greater participation from West Valley residents and Christian communities that regularly attend GCU events.
Cathey Moses, GCU’s vice president of event planning and marketing said the renovation provides GCU an opportunity to attract higher-profile concerts to the arena. Other campus events, such as commencement exercises and Chapel services can also be expanded.
Tutor Perini is adding a new upper deck, a hanging 11,000-square-foot structural steel mezzanine that will go all the way around the arena with an extra deck above it at the south end. The lower deck at the south end will be retractable for events that require a stage, such as Chapel, concerts and commencement. The renovation also includes more restroom facilities and increased life-safety exiting and smoke evacuation systems. As of this date, Tutor Perini has removed all of the seats in the upper half of the arena bowl and the basketball floor. Scoreboards and other electronics have been stored for safekeeping for future arena use.
The 135,000-square foot arena is GCU’s signature building. The arena is built with a deeper seating bowl than typical, providing all spectators with excellent views.
“I can’t imagine a place that has more seats closer,” said Mueller, noting that the first row of the upper deck will actually be nearer to the floor than the back of the lower deck. Mueller added, “When the architect came up with this drawing, that’s when we became convinced this was the right thing to do. The facility, everybody is discovering, is so important to building a brand and building a fan base. As intimate a setting as it was, it’s going to become even more so.”