Campus: CSU, Fresno -- May 09, 2001

Fun And Fanfare Mark The Start Of Work On Save Mart Center At Fresno State

Work on the Save Mart Center at Fresno State is officially under way after a festive groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday (May 8) at the site of the $103 million events center.

Leading off the activities was a parade of students that included athletes, scholars, the cheer squad and the equestrian team. They marched to the site and "claimed" their spots in the "Dog Pound," which will include 2,000 student seats in the new arena.

California State University, Fresno, President John D. Welty, CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed, Fresno Mayor Alan Autry and several state and local officials offered comments to the 1,000 campus and community members who joined the fun.

Stealing the show was Bulldog mascot, Time Out, who climbed into driver's seat of a backhoe to break ground on the project. Time Out gave a thumbs-up response to Welty's signal and dug up the first scoop of dirt.

In addition to Chancellor Reed, CSU Trustees Debra Farar and Dan Cartwright were on hand for the groundbreaking.

Offering comments on the historic day were state officials and Fresno State alumni Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and Secretary of State Bill Jones; State Senators Charles Poochigian and Jim Costa; Clovis Mayor Jose "Joe" Flores; corporate sponsors Bill Robinson, general manager of the Pepsi Bottling Group, and Bob Piccinini, chief executive officer of Save Mart Supermarkets; Nick Dvorak, president of the Bulldog Foundation; and Arakel Arisian, Associated Students Inc. president.

The Save Mart Center, the largest privately funded building ever constructed in the California State University system, won final approval from CSU trustees in March. The center is expected to be completed in 2003. The adjacent West Complex will follow soon thereafter and include the new Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the high-tech Leon and Pete Peters Educational Research Center, athletic administrative offices and a student recreation center.

The Save Mart Center will be able to accommodate up to 18,000 spectators for events and will be the largest venue of this type in the San Joaquin Valley. Over 1 million spectators will visit the facility each year and attend a variety of events including sporting events, concerts, family shows and cultural events.

Entertainment industry experts say the state-of-the-art center will put Fresno "on the map" and that major acts that typically bypass Central California will come to the Save Mart Center. In fact, Gary D. Smith, chief operating officer of POLLSTAR, a leading concert industry magazine, thinks the number of major concerts in Fresno will at least double.

Turner Construction Co. has been selected to build the Save Mart Center and contract negotiations are under way.

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