Idaho’s Wooden Beacon of Industry
Nestled neatly along the Washington state border lies the newest gem of The Gem State — The University of Idaho’s ICCU Arena.
The 4,200-seat arena is the brand-new home of the Vandals men’s and women’s basketball programs is the showcase facility of the athletic department’s recent renovations, which have included the East Practice Field turf installation, resurfacing of the Memorial Gym floor, new track and field space with tennis courts, and the addition of new record boards at the UI Swim Center.“From my perspective, this is the most impactful and iconic building I’ve ever been associated with. I’ve been to a few places and have seen a few buildings, and this is just spectacular,” Terry Gawlik, Idaho’s Director of Athletics, said.
Officially opening its doors to the public on October 8, 2021, the project totaled $51 million and projects the innovation found at the university in the design of this mass timber construction that emphasizes Idaho forest products. Idaho Forest Group is harvesting trees from the UI Experimental Forest on Moscow Mountain and surrounding public and private lands, processing them into lamstock for beam production. In total, there will be 8546 Glulam beams, weighing a combined 442 tons, and the largest beam weighs more than four tons and is 10.25”x60”x58’ long. The approximately 67,000 square foot structure demonstrates large wood building — a relatively new construction method in the U.S.
The new arena serves as a living laboratory to train students from its college of natural resources how to engineer wood. The arena’s design features a diagrid wood roof structure comprised of gently sloping organic curves, reflecting the rolling hills of the Palouse landscape. Additionally, it targets a sustainability goal of LEED Silver certification or higher.
From the Vandals’ perspective, the ICCU (Idaho Central Credit Union) Arena will be a signature example in the Northwest of how wood can be used as a less costly, greener solution for commercial buildings. The state’s forest products industry contributes $2.2 billion to Idaho’s economy and provides more than 31,000 jobs.
“As the state’s land grant institution, part of our mission is to support our state’s industries,” Matt Martin, Senior Associate Athletic Director of Idaho, said.
Tim Mooney, the Vandals’ Deputy Athletic Director, added that decision to go with wood over steel was helped by the chance to have the entire supply chain of the project come together within state lines.
Inside the ICCU Arena, coaches have their offices and meeting spaces on the main floor while a state-of-the-art locker room and lounge area comes fully equipped with tech-savvy bells and whistles as well as study spaces and an athletic training facility. There’s an additional broadcast command booth that controls the videoboard and offers a space for ESPN+ broadcasters with the Big Sky Conference sign a streaming and broadcast deal.
Inside the locker rooms, players dress in lockers from Wenger and Columbia underneath remains from the Cowan Spectrum hardwood which lines the ceiling. Players and coaches can utilize smart TVs to watch and dissect film, even drawing plays and diagnosing opportunities digitally. All of the digital smartboards and TV displays were provided by Samsung and PrismView.
With a practice facility attached as well, the ICCU Arena creates a fully dedicated space for both basketball programs while freeing up the Memorial Gym for volleyball. Additionally, it allows more flexibility for the other Vandal programs to use the Kibbie Dome for year-round development.
“We have great things happening here on campus, and not just in regards to the arena,” Gawlik said. “Our staff and student-athletes keep telling us how much they notice the night-and-day difference in the updates here.”
Paired with the brand new ICCU Arena opening this fall, the Vandal Athletics facilities will have a new look on campus in 2021-22.
The outdoor turf field, located to the east of the Kibbie Dome, has been renovated to add a new AstroTurf RootZone 3D3 playing surface for Idaho athletic programs as well as intramural and club sports throughout the year.
“Simply put: we needed new turf,” Tim Mooney, UI’s Deputy Athletic Director said. “Between the number of athletic teams that used it, it was in use about 60 percent of the time.”
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The new playing surface combines three unique fibers in one system to maximize both durability and aesthetics. The Brock Pad PowerBase Pad, installed by Coast To Coast Turf, provides additional cushioning for the student-athletes while also keeping the playing surface fast to play on. After making a visit over to nearby Washington State University, roughly seven miles away, Mooney’s decision was easy.
“After walking on their surface, seeing the safety and performance the turf history, and the lifespan of it, it just made more sense,” Mooney said.
The new surface is already featured at several other institutions across the country. Oklahoma State, Boston College, and Utah State all utilize the surface on their game fields, while Pac-12 programs like UCLA and Stanford have installed it for their practice fields.