Jan. 27, 2000
FRESNO, Calif. - A dream is about to become a reality. The vision of a few will soon be the center of fulfillment for many. The ten-story, $100-million, multi-purpose Save Mart Center is now entering the final home stretch: the proposed Fall of 2000 ground breaking ceremony.
The next few months are crucial for a projected 2002 opening ceremony. Several more hurdles stand in the way. The Board of Trustees must pass a finance plan for the center, and it must approve the Save Mart Center design.
John Zelezny, the assistant vice president for University Relations at Fresno State, said these plans are projected to go before the board this Spring. In addition to passing these plans, one major challenge remains standing in the way Zelezny said- money.
"We have a tremendous team of volunteer fundraisers working to raise the money needed," Zelezny said. "At the helm are Bob Duncan and Ed Kashian who are committed to seeing this happen. I suspect we will soon finish the job and look toward ground breaking."
Finishing the job includes leasing the few remaining luxury suits in the arena and continuing to sell the Arena Builders seats which are choice spots in any location in the complex. In the Spring, the Personal Seat License campaign kicks off. The seats of the buyers choice will be available from $500 to $3,000 for a ten-year contract.
"We are doing very well fundraising. We are now past the half-way point, but it doesn't stop here," Zelezny said.
The fundraisers are still looking for donors to underwrite the cost of the student section which is projected to expand by at least a thousand from the current Bulldog home in Selland Arena.
But the Save Mart Center project is not only about the number of student seats or the easy on-campus access to basketball, volleyball and other athletic events that makes this project undeniably appealing for Fresno State and the surrounding communities. The Center will also be a destination place for major concerts, speakers, cultural events as well as a top of the line academic facility.
"The goal is to make this the number three booking center in the state and have it operated by a promoter that can catch every act that makes the Los Angeles and San Francisco stops come here," Associate Athletic Director Scott Johnson said. "And, it's not just a place to hold athletic and other events, it has an academic component as well."
The Save Mart Center will house more than the 16,000-seat arena. It will also roof high-tech classroom facilities such as a digital communication studio for television and media courses. It will hold a water and irrigation resource center as well as a special services center for local businesses, among others.
The design also includes a west complex annex building for the Bulldog ticket office, athletic administration offices, the Hall of Fame, the Bulldog Foundation and Bulldog Shop, to name a few.
"This center is going to bring something to the Valley that it's never had before," Johnson said. "It will speak volumes about this university and this community."
As these visionary plans move from ideas on paper to a tangible building on Fresno State's campus, each conquered obstacle brings the project one step closer to actualization.
"We cleared an important hurdle in November when the Board of Trustees approved the environmental impact report," Zelezny said. And with the finance plan and design headlining the Spring agenda for the Board sometime in the Spring, Zelezny said all that is left "is to raise the rest of the money."