Devaney will be ready for volleyball scrimmage

2013-07-12T13:30:00Z 2013-08-22T23:05:28Z Devaney will be ready for volleyball scrimmageBy BRENT C. WAGNER / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

Renovation of the Devaney Sports Center's arena is about 80 percent complete and remains on pace for the Nebraska volleyball team to unveil its new home at the Huskers' preseason scrimmage Aug. 24.

“Hopefully, people are going to walk in and go, ‘Wow, this is the old Devaney?’” associate athletic director John Ingram said.

The volleyball team is moving from its longtime home at the NU Coliseum to Devaney, Nebraska's basketball venue since 1976.

A media tour Friday showed that the renovation just might meet the lofty expectations set over the past two years by Nebraska coach John Cook.

Some of the old charm of the 4,000-seat Coliseum may remain, with fans packed in close to the court, but with new amenities, including video boards and more restrooms.

For the first time Friday, NU officials discussed platforms planned for the top of the renovated arena, where standing-room-only ticket-holders can watch. The area, comparable to watching a baseball game from the concourse, could become a hotspot for school-age players and college students who the program hopes to attract to matches with a bigger venue.

The platforms could have room for about 400 fans. The arena's official capacity has yet to be determined, but the most-recent projection is about 7,800.

Getting more fans through the turnstiles is a goal, along with continuing the Huskers' 12-year streak of selling out matches.

Officials said they have received more than 5,800 new requests for tickets, even though many seats are tied to an additional donation.

Most of the major construction is complete and finish work is continuing at  Devaney. The Husker volleyball team will hold its preseason practices at the Coliseum while work continues.

While the suites and offices on the south side of the arena are the most visible changes, the design for floor seating was a key part of the $20 million renovation.

New court-level bleachers have been installed, designed with more legroom than the old bleachers but keeping as many fans as possible close to the action.

About 2,000 fans -- there are 500 more floor seats than at the Coliseum -- will be seated in the bleachers, including two student sections and the pep band. There still will be premier seating adjacent to the court.

“It was very important to the volleyball program to get as many people as close to the action as possible,” Ingram said.

The walls are up in the five suites, likely a first for a volleyball-specific venue and among the features Cook is most excited about.

“The best skyboxes in America will be in there, because they're literally going to be hanging over the court,” Cook said.

“Skyboxes at places like CenturyLink in Omaha and Memorial Stadium are way up there and stuck back. These things are going to be like the fans that were hanging over the balcony at the Coliseum.”

Near the suites is the head coach's office, where Cook will meet with recruits and describe the match atmosphere that is one of the big selling points for a program boasting three national championships.

On Friday, crews were installing the bright-red ceiling trusses designed to make the arena feel smaller than when it was a basketball venue.

“We know that the Coliseum is important to the history of Nebraska volleyball, so we wanted to bring some of those important features into the project,” Ingram said.

Nebraska's wrestling and gymnastics teams also will compete at Devaney.

Work inside the south entry and on the exterior will continue into next summer. Some of the siding on the building is being replaced as part of a multi-year project.

Interior work has been on a tight construction schedule, with demolition beginning after the boys state high school basketball tournament in March.

Reach Brent C. Wagner at 402-473-7435 or bwagner@journalstar.com.

Copyright 2015 JournalStar.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.