Renovation unveiling planned for Pan-Am Center

Plans become clearer as the launch date nears for renovations to the Pan American Center at New Mexico State University.

HOK Sport Venue and Event, based in Kansas City, Mo., is the largest designer for arenas in North America. HOK Sport Venue and Event, along with SMPC Architects in Albuquerque, have been contracted to design the renovations to the Pan Am, Will Lofdahl, director of special events, said.

"The project is in the initial stages of the design process," Lofdahl said.

The goal for the renovations is to ultimately make the Pan-Am more comfortable and create more space for the three major customers of the arena: the general public, the athletic department (including sports teams that play) and touring concerts, Lofdahl said.

Seating in the upper level sections will be converted into chairs with seat backs. Although this may lead to less space in that area, the creation of two additional spaces will provide more seating, he said.

The gap dividing upper seating at the north and south entrances will be closed, connecting the entire level with about 500 seats, Lofdahl said. The walkway that circles the inside of the building is about 10 feet wide and can become very congested during events, Lofdahl said.

"That interior concourse will be filled with seats ... we will then wipe out all of the offices (in the building) and the concourse will be replaced there," he said. "It will be a twice as wide of a walkway difference."

The scoreboards at each end of the Pan Am will be removed and a hanging scoreboard at the center of the arena will replace them, giving the crowd a better, larger view of what is going on, he said.

An additional building will be constructed at the south end of the Pan-Am and will be used for the offices located inside the building. A practice court for the volleyball and basketball teams will also be built in the same building, which will be connected to the Pan Am. Also located at the south end will be a loading dock used for concerts and other events, Lofdahl said.

The $20 million dollar project will begin as early as summer 2004. "We will start doing the exterior and south side first," Lofdahl said. "After next year's basketball season (2004-2005) is over, we will start the interior. Volleyball may not be available at the Pan-Am in 2005."

Lofdahl said he hopes this project will help extend the useful life of the Pan Am for at least 20 more years.

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