Independence Events Center

By Jerry Schleicher | September 28, 2010

Rendering of multi-use Independence Events Center. (Courtesy City of Independence)

An 182,100-square-foot, multipurpose ice hockey arena and events center featuring dual ice sheets is under construction in Independence, MO.

Scheduled for completion by fall 2009, the nearly $60-million facility will feature a professional ice arena as well as a community ice arena accessible to local hockey teams and ice skaters. The city-owned multipurpose arena will be financed by taxes generated from a community improvement district established by commercial businesses near the center.

Plans call for a Central Hockey League team to be the facility's initial anchor tenant, with the team license to be awarded by the Western Professional Hockey League, a subsidiary of Global Entertainment Corp. Global is a Phoenix-based sports management, development and marketing company which presently franchises professional hockey teams in 16 mid-size markets.

The project's construction management team is the Benham Companies, headquartered in Oklahoma City. The Denver-based architectural firm Sink Combs Dethlefs is providing architectural services, and JE Dunn Construction, Kansas City, MO, is the contractor.

"Benham brought a strong background, an excellent reputation regarding construction projects, and the ability to keep projects on schedule," says Larry Kaufman, Independence assistant city manager and project overseer.

"Sink Combs Dethlefs has been involved with the design and construction of several other arenas for Global and has an excellent reputation," adds Kaufman. "JE Dunn was selected because it has experience with arena construction, was willing to submit a guaranteed maximum price, and is a strong company that could start immediately to allow the city to have a finished events center by November 2009."

The events center is being built in the Eastland Retail Center, on the site of a former golf course which contained considerable fill material. David Young, senior project engineer at JE Dunn Construction, says that prompted his company to install auger cast piles to create a deep foundation system.

"The entire foundation is built on clusters of grout-filled auger cast piles, some of them drilled to a depth of 60 feet, and some as shallow as 8 feet," Young explains.

Design Details

The exterior of the events center will present a traditional appearance in keeping with the historic heritage of Independence, a 160-year-old city that began as the trailhead for the California, Oregon and Santa Fe trails, and is home to the President Harry S. Truman home and Truman Library. Kaufman says the facility will feature a traditional design aesthetic that feels more like a classic fieldhouse than a contemporary arena.

"The client wanted a multi-use facility with an exterior design that reflects the nature of the neighborhood, and interior flexibility to host a variety of events in addition to ice hockey," says Young. "That directed us to select construction materials that would not impede that flexibility."

Lindsey Peckinpaugh, project architect with Sink Combs Dethlefs, says the exterior of the two-story structure will incorporate brick, integral color precast concrete, and hollow metal storefront glazing systems.

"While the building is not a LEED-certified project, we have implemented sustainable design practices as the budget allows," says Kaufman. "For example, we specified low-E translucent glazing on the project, which provides ample opportunities for daylight, while mitigating solar heat gain."

Project planners also specified a light-colored TPO roofing membrane on the low-slope roof areas, which will greatly decrease the solar heat gain on the project. Prominent entryways on the east and south sides of the building will be marked by large archways and ample glazing and light.

Inside, the 5,800-seat bowl will be a free-span structure with no structural columns. Peckinpaugh says accessible seating has been planned for around the perimeter of the event floor and at the perimeter of the suite level, ensuring patrons with physical limitations will have unobstructed views of the floor. Telescopic seating, which is retractable and in some cases portable, will allow the configuration of the seating bowl to be adapted to various events.

Kaufman says portable ramps and ADA seating platforms will increase the flexibility of the facility.

Mechanical systems for the events center are complex and designed to ensure the control of temperature and humidity levels in a climate that features dual ice sheets. Large rooftop air handling units have been designated to maintain a 65-degree Fahrenheit dry bulb temperature with 58-percent humidity during an ice event held in late May.

Peckinpaugh says patrons will enter the events center on grade at the main concourse level, which will include a ticket sales lobby, team store and space for additional vendor kiosks. The building also features a suite level with upgraded amenities, including 25 suites and two party suites. A large cooking commissary will support seven concession areas and three bars, along with the individual and party suites. Back-of-house amenities will include locker rooms, star dressing rooms and associated building maintenance areas.

The adjoining community ice arena will feature locker rooms, a party room, pro shop and skate rental shop, as well as bleacher seating for spectators. Project plans call for 2,000 parking stalls located on a 48-acre site.

Kaufman says each of the ice sheets is designed to NHL specifications. One large chiller unit with an evaporative condenser will make and maintain both sheets of ice. Both ice rinks will feature a subgrade grid of cooling pipes atop a heated sand bed.

Multi-Use Facility

Subsidiary companies of Global Entertainment Corp. will provide a range of functions at the Independence Events Center. International Coliseums Co. is serving as project consultant for the design and construction of the facility. Encore Facility Management will manage all building operations; Global Entertainment Marketing Systems will be the licensing and advertising arm; and Global Entertainment Ticketing will provide exclusive ticketing services for all events.

According to Kaufman, a feasibility study commissioned by the city of Independence indicated that a multi-use arena would be a strong addition to the area's retail destination market. "Along with the full range of shopping, restaurants and hotels in the area, the events center will cement Independence as a destination location for the region," he says.

Kaufman adds, "Although the 'hockey arena' aspect has received a deservedly significant amount of attention, the value of the events center is that it will accommodate a variety of entertainment activities to serve the needs of our community."

Editor's note: Jerry Schleicher is a writer based in Parkville, MO.