Arena nearing finish

Jessica Sasseen

Forty years of history, tradition and memories were cut up yesterday.

Construction crews used hand saws to carefully cut around portions of Diddle Arena floor, which will be sold to fans. When the crew finishes, the entire floor will be removed.

As the last part of the $32.5 million Diddle renovation project, the flooring and seating that has been in Diddle for over 40 years will be replaced.

Athletic Director Wood Selig said the Hilltopper Athletic Foundation will work with a national company to package parts of the original Diddle floor. They will use plaques or a certificate of authenticity to make mementos available to Western fans.

“When you think about all the historic games and teams that have played on this floor, there is going to be a high level of demand to own a piece of Western’s history from the last 40 years,” Selig said.

The price of a piece of Diddle’s floor will depend on the piece’s size and presentation, Selig said. HAF is also exploring consumer interest in coffee tables and conference tables made from the old Diddle floor.

Selig said the design for the floor will be decided on next month, and bids for the seating are due April 22. The final design for seats is dependent on the seating bids, he said.

Seats are already being taken out of Diddle in preparation for the new chairs, Construction Manager Ed West said.

Every new seat in Diddle will have a chair back and a cup holder, Selig said. Some will be leather and some cloth covered, but he said the exact design is dependent on the bids.

West said all the bleachers on the sidelines will be replaced with chairs, and there will be retractable seating in the end zones.

The current floor is about a fraction of an inch of hard wood on top of concrete. The new floor will be built with state-of-the-art shock absorption, which should lead to fewer player injuries, Selig said.

The red and white wooden seats being taken out of Diddle will be transferred to the Agriculture Exposition Center’s arena.

The Ag Center is paying for the removal of about 2,200 Diddle seats. Agriculture department head Jenks Britt said he thinks the Diddle seats harbor a lot of memories and will improve the Ag arena’s appearance.

“I can just see somebody jumping up out of those seats and yelling ‘Technical foul!’ while someone is riding a rodeo horse,” Britt said.

The offices, locker rooms, concession stands, staircases and auxiliary gym addition have been renovated.

West said crews are also working on the outside masonry work, which was hindered by the winter weather.

After the flooring and seating renovation are complete, only the Hall of Champions area, where the swimming pool once was, will remain unfinished in Diddle.

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