It's been just over two years since crews broke ground on the 148,500-square-foot, roughly $54 million Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex at the end of 2008. It's been much longer since officials at Indiana University of Pennsylvania started planning for the complex.
Now it's time to celebrate.
"I'm most excited to have the facility truly open to the public," said Samuel Phillips, interim assistant vice president for administration. "I'm most excited (that they) can see a facility that was conceived a decade ago finally opening, and for the local community to get a chance to see what the Kovalchick Center has to offer."
The ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for 4 p.m. March 4 in the Ed Fry Arena. Doors open at 3 p.m., and tours and food samples and family-friendly activities follow.
Representatives from the Harlem Globetrotters will be present, and activities include face painting and balloon tying. Parking is free at the complex for the day of the grand opening.
Phillips said the opening celebration is intended to bring the community into the facility.
"It's a very inclusive, community-based celebration," he said. "It's an exciting time."
Phillips said organizers expect to have the occupancy permits by the middle of February, in plenty of time for the celebration.
The 148,500 square-foot facility includes features a 5,000-seat arena, a 650-seat auditorium, a 17,000-square-foot conference center, and a 6,000-square-foot conference center.
Construction was officially completed in early January, and officials estimated the total cost of construction would be about $54 million, right around the contracted rate of $53.49 million.
The university has since been installing furniture, fixtures and equipment -- including lighting and sound equipment and an LED scoreboard -- to the tune of about $6.5 million.
Global Spectrum is managing the arena, with Jim Grafston as the general manager. The Globetrotters will be the inaugural event March 10, followed by Waka Flocka Flame on March 24. Other shows include Widespread Panic (April 3), the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus (April 7 to 10) and Steve Miller with Gregg Allman (April 27).
Tickets for the March shows are available now at the temporary box office in the Memorial Field House, open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the athletic ticket windows.