O’Connell Center redesign, renovations scheduled

By Adam Silverstein
June 10, 2014

The University of Florida on Tuesday announced the schedule for a planned renovation of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center as well as some specifics about what improvements will be made to the facility by the time it is completed in the winter of 2015.

According to the school, Florida is already “in the process of choosing a firm to design the project” and hopes to pick one soon in hopes of getting construction on the 33-year-old facility started in nine months.

O’Dome renovations will begin in March 2015 and conclude in December 2015 with the project set at a price tag of $45 million. The school has already signed off on a $10 million contribution to the project with the University Athletic Association tasked with raising the remaining $35 million.

Athletic director Jeremy Foley mentioned in May that the Gators are still $15 million away from their overall fundraising goal.

The following are among the renovations scheduled to be made to the facility:

» “Prominent main entrance” between Gate 1 and Gate 2
» Club seating and club lounge
» Chair-back seats, permanent in the lower level
» “Center-hung, high-definition video board and new sound system”
» New concourse and concession stands
» New offices and locker rooms
» Updated “mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems”

The O’Connell Center currently seats 11,548 but its capacity is expected to decrease due to changes inside the bowl.

The last major renovations made to the main bowl of the facility were a $2.5 million project that installed four 12’ x 16’ video boards in December 2006 and separate $900,000 project that reconfigured some lower level seating during the summer of 2011.

UF unveiled a renovated gymnastics studio in December 2012, which expanded the area to 18,000 square feet (adding 6,600 square feet) while upgrading offices, training rooms, equipment and electronics at a cost of $4.5 million.

Foley has previously spoken about the Florida men’s basketball team playing its fall non-conference home games across the state in 2015 though no specific plan has been laid out for the other sports that will be affected by the O’Dome’s 10-month closing. The Gators volleyball team is not expected to play a single home game in 2015.

Check out additional mockups of the scheduled renovations published by The Gainesville Sun when the project was first announced in 2012.


  1. Tractorr says:

    I don’t think they should put seat backs in the Rowdy Reptiles section. It will ruin the whole feel of that section. Plus, once there are seat backs there it will only be a matter of time before they want to sell those to big money donors.

    • Florida’s not going to remove the rowdies from the lower bowl on a sideline – promise you that. Perhaps they leave out seat-backs in that area but even if they’re added, it should not be much of an issue. I could see those seats being left alone, however.

      • Tractorr says:

        Places with a far longer tradition than Florida’s have moved their student sections. It won’t happen this year or next but if the ODome starts selling out consistently year round, I could see them moving them.

  2. Ken (CA) says:

    I guess they haven’t cashed myy $15 mill check yet!

    In reality, though, The UAA has always been independent, the school has been in financial hurt for years with the UAA giving them money to help and still having huge budget shortfalls. The University should never have promised $10 mill to help the renovation. One of the things I have always had pride in was that we are one of the few truly independent athletic programs in the country needing no support from Gov’t or University.

    • John B says:

      The University contribution is due to the fact that the O’Connell Center is a multipurpose, auxiliary facility on campus. Technically, the UAA rents out the center for Gator sporting events. The University holds a multitude of events and functions in the O’Connell Center including career showcase, Impact speakers, dance marathon, graduation, exams, student/faculty/staff fitness, etc. It is a UF building, not a UAA building.

      • Ken (CA) says:

        I undertand that, but so are the stadium and many other athletic fields/facilities, yet the UAA while paying rent for all of them has always been able to cover any upgrade/building costs out of their own budget without requiring university assistance.

  3. Matt says:

    It’s nice, definitely not as impressive as Kentucky’s proposed arena though. I am a huge Gator fan, but in recruiting, everything matters.

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