June 9, 2011
MADISON, Wis. -- Nearly a month has passed since the official groundbreaking ceremony for La Bahn Arena, which will sit on the west side of the Kohl Center. Construction on the new women's hockey arena, which will also serve as a practice arena for the men's hockey program, is still in its infancy. Both teams, as well as the men's and women's swimming and diving teams, will benefit with new locker room facilities from the project.
A trip to the Kohl Center allows one to view the crane and the large hole in the ground, but it still appears difficult to imagine how it will all look in the end.
Construction on the project already spans more than two months and the crew from Findorff continues to make great progress. That crew includes Project Manager Matt Premo.
"I'm responsible for getting the project done on time and making sure it gets done per the plans and specifications," said Premo. "We've got a big team. I've got a senior project manager, what we call the project engineer, and an on-site superintendent making sure thing is running smooth on-site. I'd say right now, 50 percent of my time is actually on-site and the other 50 percent is back in the office either writing contracts or taking care of corresponding paperwork with the team.
"The project is going real well. The underground hockey locker rooms, which we need to have up and running for access to gate B, are going well. We are fully excavated and are pouring walls right now. Within eight or 10 days, depending on the weather, we'll have all of the area foundation walls poured, getting ready for the top and waterproofing for the deck."
Access to Gate B, with the Welcome Desk and Bucky's Locker Room is currently blocked off, with Bucky's Locker Room completely shuttered until October as work on the connecting tunnel between the Kohl Center and the new arena progresses.
"Right now, we are also working on earth retention and city storm sewer on the south drive. We'll be able to open up the loading dock in a couple of weeks. We are also on pace on the electrical room. We'll be moving the electrical service from the Kohl Center into the new room. That is a very, very important part."
Part of getting the electrical service switch over requires cutting power to five or six buildings in the area on a couple of occasions, though that will take place during overnight hours.
The loading dock access now runs via a temporary bridge over the Murray Street pedestrian underpass. That access will resume once the storm sewer work is complete in the next couple of weeks.
"Things are going well," Premo explained. "The rain is staying away and right now it is just dig and get some concrete in. We are moving right along. We want the rain to stay away because we are digging in the ground. In about six months, it wouldn't matter because we'll be more inside. It can rain on the weekends and at night, but not during the day.
"The best weather is no rain, and 70 degrees. The last couple of days were real hot days and with the guys you might get some heat exhaustion with the heat index at 95 to 100, so that makes it pretty tough to work, but there is a nice cool down on the way."