The first wave of Ford Center renovations will begin in June, according to Oklahoma City officials, while construction of the NBA practice facility is much further from breaking ground.
The entire project, however, is scheduled for completion before the start of the 2010-11 NBA season, the latest possible season the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics could relocate to Oklahoma City. Construction of the downtown arena's recently approved $100 million improvement project will be done in three segments. The building's interior is slated to undergo renovations in June, but the project's two biggest makeovers — a new grand entrance on the southwest side of the building and a southeast expansion — won't begin until early 2009. "We're going to focus on the interior improvements that would be noticeable to the patrons and try to enhance the facility so that it meets NBA standards as they're defined today,” said Assistant City Engineer Laura Story. "And some of those upgrades are pretty significant.” Story said the interior work includes the construction of the arena's bunker suites, loge boxes and renovated club suites as well as improved bathrooms and finishes to the 100 and 300 levels' floors and walls. Of the project's other two segments, construction of the grand entrance likely will begin next January. The southeast expansion project, which calls for repositioning the arena's loading dock, is tentatively scheduled to begin in June 2009 with the projects taking up to six months for completion, Story said. Because The Benham Companies, the architect firm that developed the preliminary renderings of the proposed Ford Center project, was initially hired by the city to only form concepts of arena upgrades, the firm, in conjunction with Denver-based Sink Combs Dethlefs, still is designing blueprints for the arena. "What we had in the conceptual renderings was nothing close to a designed-level detail needed by a contractor,” said Oklahoma City Special Projects Manager Tom Anderson. "So the architects are in the process now of creating that detailed-level design process. And that will probably take a matter of months before they complete that task.” Even then, Story said, work likely will be slowed because of the need to keep the Ford Center open while working around scheduled events. "Whenever we develop the plans then we look and see which can be installed around existing events,” Story said.
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