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BOWLING GREEN - Anderson Arena's days are numbered as Bowling Green State University's revered home court. Construction of the Stroh Center, a multimillion dollar, multipurpose facility, is taking place not far from Anderson Arena just off Wooster Street. The Falcons are moving into the 21st century with the new sports edifice that has a scheduled completion date of July, 2011.
It will officially become the home for the Falcons men's and women's basketball teams, women's volleyball, and gymnastics.
"It's going to be a tremendous front porch for the campus and community," BG athletic director Greg Christopher said. "It'll be a great first impression for BGSU."
The Stroh Center - named after Kermit and Mary Lu Stroh, who donated $8 million for the development of the $36 million facility - is being built at a steady and brisk pace since school administrators broke ground on the project on Sept. 1, 2009. It figures to be completed long before the women's volleyball team faces Michigan State on Sept. 9, 2011, in the first official event scheduled to take place.
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"We're months ahead of schedule thanks to the contractors," said Mike Schuessler, BG project manager/design and construction.
The Stroh Center, which has a ceiling 50-feet high from the main level, is being built in an area that once was vacant off Wooster Street. Sitting approximately a quarter mile southwest of Doyt Perry Stadium, the Stroh Center can be seen while driving by on I-75.
The state-of-the-art construction is considered a major step forward, not only for BG athletics, but for the university as a whole. The quaint and cozy structure, which will seat approximately 4,400 for athletic events, will also be utilized as a concert venue. It will potentially give the university and the Bowling Green community a local facility to lure a variety of entertainers and shows.
"We don't expect to become the major concert player," he said. "Instead of having 2-3 concerts on a good year, certainly, we'd like to be able to have a few more."
However, the primary purpose for the construction of the building is to replace the "house that roars" with a more modern, more functional, and more tech-ready place for Falcons sports teams to call home. The Stroh Center is expected to provide all of that.
From a functional standpoint, the new facility will provide plenty of amenities which Anderson Arena lacked.
The Stroh Center will include an auxiliary practice gym that will help the basketball teams avoid scheduling conflicts. It also will include four visiting team locker rooms that will allow BG to serve multiple teams in situations like hosting high school basketball tournaments.
The building will provide the training staff with a state-of-the-art sports medicine facility which will include a $50,000 whirlpool that will be used to address injuries and rehabilitation.
Athletes will have access to a team lounge area that is being built near a hallway designated for a row of coaches' offices on the south side of the building.
Of the 4,400 seats, 88 are expected to be court-side.
The Stroh Center will be equipped with more rest-rooms and concessions than what was offered at Anderson Arena. The facility will offer a theater-in-the-round design, which involves a walkway that makes it possible to walk completely around the facility without missing any action on the court.
From the high-tech standpoint, the Stroh Center will provide plenty of bells and whistles designed to keep fans involved, informed, and entertained. A huge 20-foot x 10-foot video scoreboard, capable of showing replays and videos, will hang atop the building's west side. A message and information board will hang on the opposite wall. A high-end sound system also figures into the plans to help create an upbeat and enthusiastic atmosphere.
"The most important thing is to try and bring the atmosphere of Anderson Arena to the Stroh Center," said Jim Elsasser, BG associate athletic director of internal affairs.
Furthermore, you'll know you've arrived at BG's home gym almost immediately when approaching the entrance to the facility from a parking lot expected to handle 1,100 vehicles. A huge bronze statue of a Falcon with a 30-foot wingspan will be perched just outside the east side of the building.
The facility also will include a Falcons Hall of Fame display that will include plenty of photographs and memorabilia chronicling the athletic programs.
Officials believe the opening of the Stroh Center in 2011 will create a new era in Falcons history.
"When I was hired in 2006, Dr. [Sidney] Ribeau was straightforward with me and said, 'Your No. 1 priority was fixing the arena [situation],'" Christopher said. "It's been a dream for many people, and there are a lot of people that are making this happen."
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