Hec Edmundson Pavilion closes for renovations

Fans and players said good-bye to the original interior of Hec Edmundson Pavilion on March 6, as the UW closed its fieldhouse after the UW-WSU men’s basketball game for an 18-month, $39 million renovation.

A new superstructure will replace support columns inside the upper seating area, eliminating obstructed views that have bothered fans for 70 years. Capacity will grow to about 10,000 and there will be new locker rooms and meeting areas. The renovated space will open in November 2000.

For the 1999-2000 season, the men’s basketball team will play in KeyArena at the Seattle Center. The women’s basketball team will play in the Mercer Arena also at the Seattle Center. Gymnastics and volleyball contests will be held in the Pavilion Addition.

During the ceremonies closing the pavilion, UW officials opened a time capsule placed in its cornerstone in 1927. The contents were underwhelming: one copy of a 1927 Seattle Times and UW Daily, a list of Hec Ed building committee members, a student handbook and a dime. Sports Information Director Jim Daves promises that the contents of a new time capsule placed into the cornerstone during the renovation will be more representative of our era.

Funds for the renovation come from a variety of sources, including about $10 million in University building funds to cover seismic work, funds from a season-ticket surcharge and donations to the Campaign for the Student-Athlete, which has already surpassed its original, $36 million goal with 12 months left in the campaign.

“The reception from fans and alumni has been overwhelming,” says Athletics Associate Director Gary Barta, who heads the fund-raising effort. The department plans to raise its goal before the campaign concludes on June 30, 2000. “We know we have to raise more than $40 million,” he says.

Another project financed in part by the campaign is a $22 million indoor practice facility. The building would be about 80 feet high and 150 yards long, holding about 95,000 square feet. The original site was north of the IMA Building parallel to Montlake Boulevard, but the City-University Community Advisory Committee objected to the size and bulk of the building, fearing that it would create a “canyon” or “tunnel” effect. After careful consideration, the UW moved the preferred site to a practice field east of the Nordstrom Tennis Center.

While some detractors have labeled the facility a “football place,” it actually will serve 23 sports, says Assistant Athletic Director Chip Lydum. “It will have a four-lane indoor track, the only indoor track in the city,” he notes. Its size enables the men’s baseball team and women’s softball team to practice at the same time. Students will be able to use the facility for flag-football and soccer games, Lydum added. “We may be able to open it to community use as well,” he says.

“What some people don’t understand is that Hec Ed was our original indoor practice facility. It had a dirt floor, and in 1927, that’s where the men’s baseball team and football team practiced out of the rain,” he says. Because of its renovation, Hec Ed can no longer serve that purpose. “This is the same concept,” he explains.

The UW plans to start construction in June 2000, a one-year delay from the original timeline.