Big dig: UVA's arena begins its rise

No longer must UVA suffer the indignity of having the smallest basketball dome in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Years of fundraising will begin to bear fruit this Friday, May 30, as UVA officially breaks ground for its new arena.

As any bystander can see, the real ground-breaking has already begun. In April, workers began excavating a former parking lot at the corner of Massie and Copeley Roads.

Locals fretted about the impact, as construction of a nearby 1,200-car "monster" parking garage riled the adjacent Lewis Mountain neighborhood– until April, when UVA announced it would cough up $1.2 million in traffic enhancements including turning lanes and timed signals.

The $129.8 million arena project includes construction of the long-awaited North Grounds Connector, a new gateway from the Route 250 Bypass. The mammoth undertaking has already drawn over $75 million in donations– including a $35 million commitment from alumnus Paul Tudor Jones II, $20 million from an anonymous donor, and $5 million from trustee William H. Goodwin, according to UVA spokesperson Carol Wood.

When completed in the summer of 2006, the University of Virginia Multipurpose Arena will seat 15,076. Let's hope that by then it will have gained a catchier moniker similar to its likely-to-be-demolished neighbor, "U-Hall."

At 8,500 seats and sans air-conditioning, University Hall reportedly failed to provide coaches with sufficient recruiting muscle. The new place ought to be a boost in luring hot prospects.


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