The momentum for mass timber continues to gain strength and speed, with last week’s announcement that the University of Idaho will build its new $30 million basketball arena from wood.
Why? Because Idaho wants, and needs, to stand out from its recruiting season competitors – and the new basketball arena might do the trick.
“It ties in with our land grant mission. It ties in with the timber industry. It ties in with our need for a facility. This is really resonating with people,” UI Athletic Director Rob Spear told the Spokesman-Review’s Peter Harriman.
“As the UI works through the transition that will see it return to the Big Sky Conference as a football-playing member in 2018 after two decades as an NCAA Football Bowl Series school, the new arena is a bold statement UI athletics are not simply retrenching,” Harriman explained.
The arena’s basketball court will hold 4,500 to 4,700 spectators, and its practice gym is spacious, as are coaches’ offices and convention spaces. Fundraising for the building is 67 percent complete.
The mass timber dome – a replacement for Idaho’s long-serving Kibbie Dome – is set to open in 2020.
Opsis Architecture of Portland, Ore., will design the structure. The firm’s initial architectural drawings are stunning. Once again, mass timber proves itself to be a warm and inviting, but also exceedingly durable, building material.
We’ll keep you posted on the arena’s progress. In the meantime, be sure to read Harriman’s story on the thinking behind IU’s use of mass timber and the basketball arena’s importance to the future of the school’s athletic program.