Campus: CSU, Fresno -- May 09, 2001
Save Mart Center Groundbreaking Celebration at Fresno
State Launches Construction Phase of Project Supported entirely by Private
State and local officials descended on the California State University,
Fresno campus today (May 8) for a historic and unique groundbreaking
of the Save Mart Center, the $103 million privately-funded sports, entertainment
and educational venue that will be the largest of its kind in Central
California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and Secretary of State Bill Jones
returned to their alma mater for the festive shovel-less groundbreaking
celebration joining CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed and Fresno State
President John D. Welty.
State Senators Charles Poochigian and Jim Costa also attended the event
that featured the university's Bulldog mascot, Time Out, climbing into
the driver's seat of a backhoe to break ground on the project.
"The folks who now drive to Los Angeles and San Francisco to see
the big name acts will come here instead and will keep our resources
right here where they belong, right here in our community," said
Chancellor Reed noted that the Save Mart Center will be the largest
privately funded project ever built in the Californian State University
"We can look forward to this Save Mart Center and say this is the
house the community built," Reed told the more than 1,000 campus
and community members who attended the festive event that highlighted
student leaders and athletes.
Corporate sponsors Bill Robinson, general manager of the Pepsi Bottling
Group, and Bob Piccinini, chief executive officer of Save Mart Supermarkets,
also addressed spoke.
Fresno Mayor Alan Autry said the project will be good for Fresno and
the Central Valley.
"This arena makes a big statement for the rest of the city and
around the world, and I really like that it coincides with the building
of our downtown stadium," Autry said. "Anytime a city builds
things like that, the whole city gets stronger; every neighborhood gets
The Save Mart Center gained 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.
Turner Construction Co. has been selected to build the Save Mart Center
and contract negotiations are under way.
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. More than one 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.
Tuesday's groundbreaking highlighted Fresno State students who earlier
this year helped the project by passing a referendum for a fee increase
to fund the student recreation center west annex.
The students will have 2,000 seats in the arena and Tuesday they staked
claim to what will be known as the "Dog Pound."
In addition to Chancellor Reed, CSU Trustees Debra Farar and Dan Cartwright
were on hand for the groundbreaking.
Others who offered comments on the historic day were Clovis Mayor Jose
"Joe" Flores; Nick Dvorak, president of the Bulldog Foundation;
and Arakel Arisian, Associated Students Inc. president.