NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — Merrimack‘s Volpe Center renovation, though slightly behind schedule and expected to cost more than initial estimates, is still on track, according to school officials.
The three phase project, originally announced in August, 1999, was slated to enter phase two this past summer, but construction elsewhere on campus and changes in plans forced the work to be delayed until the fall.
“We hoped to have the project begin on October 1st, but we have the bids out there and we are confident that the project will begin soon,” Merrimack athletic director Bob DeGregorio told The Eagle Tribune.
The Volpe Center is widely considered to be among the most outdated Division I facilities in the nation.
Phase two, which involves the construction of a 7,500 square foot addition to contain new locker rooms, a player’s lounge and training room, is now slated for completion in March, 2001, according to college President Richard J. Santagati.
“We are still on target, we just made some changes,” Santagati told the paper. “In phase two, we are adding some of the features that were going to wait until phase three. This has caused some delays as we had to revise the ‘Request for Proposal’ that was put out to the contractors who are bidding on the project.”
An upper level walkway, which will allow for the construction of an alumni club room known as the “Warrior Box,” has been added to the second phase of work, along with an elevator leading to the second level, according to Santagati.
Santagati also said that the third phase, originally scheduled to begin at the conclusion of the 1999-2000 season and conclude on Dec. 1, 2001, will now begin in the fall of 2001 and be completed in December, 2001 or January, 2002. Phase three involves the conversion of the current bleacher style rink to a wraparound bowl with 3,000 individual seats, an upper level concourse, a VIP lounge, eight private boxes and three press boxes.
The entire renovation, originally announced to cost $7 million, is now expected to reach into the $8-9 million range, according to Santagati, who noted that the school will fund one third of the cost from its operating budget. The other two thirds, or nearly $6 million, is expected to be met through support from alumni and the community.
Merrimack plans to play the majority of its early season Hockey East and non-conference games in 2001-02 on the road or in alternate home rinks while phase three is under way. However, the phase two work this season at the 28-year old Volpe Center will not have an effect on the team’s ability to use the rink for practice and games.