Creighton officials can be excused for keeping an extra watchful eye on long-range forecasts for the next six weeks.
Good weather will keep construction on the school's new Championship Center on pace. Bad weather, well, …
“Up to this point, we've been lucky in regard to the weather,” said Brandon McCarville, Creighton's facilities manager. “If we could get another six weeks of good weather, we'll be in good shape.”
That would allow crews from Kiewit Corp. to get the building totally enclosed. At this point three of the four exterior walls are completed and the roof trusses are in place, allowing crews to work on the roof. The south side of the building will remain open temporarily to allow some large equipment for the new training rooms to be moved into the facility.
“It's our understanding that in the next couple of weeks, they could have it totally enclosed,” Creighton Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen said. “Barring an early winter, they could be far enough along to have the building pretty weather-tolerant before long.”
Construction of the new multipurpose building, which will include practice facilities for the Creighton men's and women's basketball teams, is on schedule for a late May opening. It is just south of D.J. Sokol Arena and west of Morrison Stadium.
Creighton officials understandably are concerned about the weather issue. Last spring rains caused the project to get off to a slow start. Crews could work on just 22 of the first 60 days after the project was started.
“After three months, they were basically two months behind,'' Rasmussen said. “But since around the first of June, they've been able to catch up substantially.''
In addition to two basketball courts and offices for the men's basketball staff, the 43,000-square-foot building will house a new weight room, new training rooms with state-of-the-art equipment and a new academic-support area.
Athletes from all Creighton teams will use the building.
When the project was announced in the fall of 2012, the cost for the building was set at $10.5 million. Rasmussen said the cost has risen — he declined to say by how much — because the size of the building has increased from between 38,000 to 41,000 square feet to its present size.
“We realized this was going to be our one chance to build a facility such as this,” Rasmussen said. “We wanted to make sure we did it right.
“The Creighton way is you don't build it until you've raised the money for it, and we've raised enough to complete the present project. Some of the bells and whistles might have to wait until the second phase, but I'm confident we'll raise the money to get them in.”
Some of those bells and whistles, Rasmussen said, include graphics and signage that will help tell the story of Creighton athletics over the years.
“Instead of just hanging a banner on the wall that says these are the years you played in the NCAA tournament, there are ways of presenting that information that can be more appealing,'' he said. “Those are things that can wait, though.”
In addition to getting the roof trusses up in the past week, workers began applying the red brick that will finish off the structure to the upper level of the north side (front) of the building.
McCarville said workers soon will begin constructing walls that will house the lower level of the front side of the building as well as enclosing the south side. He said most of the south side will be windows that will allow natural light into the building.
“It will be very similar to the front of Sokol Arena,” he said.
Work done in the last 10 days has provided a dramatic visual “next step” in the construction process.
“The more it gets completed,'' Rasmussen said, “the more excited we get about it. We're going to be one of the few Division I programs that will have almost all of its athletic facilities in such a tight geographic space.
“It's going to be tremendous for all of our athletes.”
McDermott on another list
Creighton forward Doug McDermott became a candidate for another player of the year award Thursday when he was named to the Naismith Trophy watch list.
The Naismith Trophy is presented by the Atlanta Tip-Off Club at the Final Four. McDermott earlier was named to the watch lists for the Robertson Trophy and the Wooden Award.
“It's just a list and we've only played three games, but it means a lot to me,” McDermott said. “It's an honor, but there are a lot of games to be played. I'm just trying to help my team win. If I do, those other things will take care of themselves.”
McDermott has averaged 25.7 points per game in Creighton's first three wins.