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Renovations to Air Force Academy's 51-year-old Cadet Field House renovations underway, with more on the horizon

Zoe Casteel participates in a women's pole vault competition at the U.S. Air Force Academy's Cadet Field House in Colorado Springs, Colo., Feb. 5, 2016. The Cadet Field House — which houses the school's indoor track, basketball arena and ice hockey rink — is currently undergoing a three-part, 6-year, $115 million renovation.

BILL EVANS/U.S. AIR FORCE

By KATE SHEFTE | The Gazette | Published: September 3, 2019

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Tribune News Service) — Air Force’s Cadet Field House is getting a spruce.

The building — which houses the indoor track, basketball arena and ice hockey rink — is a maze of scaffolding and building materials. Underway is the first phase of a three-part, 6-year, $115 million project. There’s a new scoreboard at center ice as part of Phase II, and a new track and basketball court in III.

The 51-year-old arena is in the midst of its first major renovation.

With classes in session and regular-season hockey barely more than a month away, the building is still in use. The offices of hockey coach Frank Serratore and men’s basketball coach Dave Pilipovich have been temporarily relocated to trailers near the tennis courts.

Sixty-five to 70 percent of the work must be completed by Oct. 1. Pilipovich will get his old digs back first.

This summer, workers kept going even as thousands of sports campers came through. A three-day electrical shutdown necessitated more than 700 man hours, according to Weston Marsh, superintendent for Perini Management Services.

“We communicate heavily with these guys, and they jump through hoops because they know what we’re going through, and we do what we can do help them out too,” Marsh said.

Through all the noise, dust and disruption, David Miller, Associate Athletic Director for Support, said it’s “one of the better relationships” of its kind he’s had in his career.

Here are some of the changes underway at the Cadet Field House:

Ice Ice, Baby

No more decades-old technology. The Field House’s four ice chillers, more than 10,000 pounds apiece, will be powered by a geothermal system involving 19 miles of pipe that stretches 500 feet below the parking lot, with more going in later. Water is heated and cooled in a continuous loop.

According to Gentry Hobbs, quality assurance rep for the Army Corps of Engineers, it will reduce costs, lower maintenance and offer a greener solution.

Behind the scenes

The entrance players use to get onto the ice looks the same, but everything behind it will be different.

Thirty new player lockers and five for the coaches have been unpacked. In an effort to combat the legendary smell of hockey gear, the new Air Force lockers each have an independent air duct that will dry players’ wet gloves.

The entire hallway that housed the coaches’ offices has been renovated and repurposed. The area once held the volleyball team, and even served as a dormitory for visiting teams at one point.

Last year, folding tables were set up with catered food in the hallway. There’s about to be a significant upgrade with a team lounge, meeting area, kitchen, and hospitality area for recruiting going in.

“We will bring potential cadet-athletes here to the academy, and this helps demonstrate our commitment and investment in the hockey arena,” Miller said.

Clearer picture

American company Musco Lighting supplied new fixtures all the way around the arena. They’re “TV-quality” LED lights, which will eliminate shadows.

“It’s going to be the biggest portion that everyone notices,” Marsh said. “It’s going to be a lot better for fan experience.”

Moving pieces

A hallway went up on the east side of the building, which will now have the press box above it. Nearby is a new, ADA-compliant wheelchair platform. A club seating area is part of the master plan.

In what is likely welcome news to fans, the bathrooms on the concourse are being renovated, which should lead to shorter lines.

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©2019 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
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