Opening of Mendenhall Center postponed 

After delays, new practice facility set to open in 2012

Chase Stevens | The Rebel Yell

The doors of Mendenhall Center will stay closed for a while longer.

Originally scheduled to open on Nov. 14 with a dedication ceremony and a public open house event, the dedication of the future practice facility for the Runnin’ Rebels has been postponed until Jan. 19, 2012, according to an announcement on UNLV’s website that was made hours prior to the event.

The open house is scheduled to take place on Jan. 21, the same date the Runnin’ Rebels will take on New Mexico, according to the announcement.

“Right now, we’re looking at a number of different dates [to open] but it might not be the exact date of that game,” said Athletic Director Jim Livengood. “I would say that, roughly a week after Thanksgiving, we’ll have a lot more details of the plans for the date. Until we get all of the plans in concrete, if you will, we’ll be ready to go.”

The key reasons for the postponing are due to final construction renovations and finding a date that would accommodate the scheduling of an appearance by Gov. Brian Sandoval, said Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gerry Bomotti.

Chase Stevens | The Rebel Yell

“The construction is going well, but [finishing] the flooring has been delayed,” Bomotti said. “We could’ve had the event on Monday if we wanted to, but with the governor not being there, it didn’t seem appropriate. But right now, we’re waiting for a supplier and by [this] Friday or Saturday, the paving will be finished.”

No serious construction problems have been noted to delay the ceremony any further, Livengood said.

“Everything’s on schedule right now,” he said. “I’ve been in there a number of times and everything looks great.”

Ground was broken for the 38,000-square foot donated practice facility in October 2010. Donations for the building have totaled approximately $12 million, including $7 million alone from Las Vegas Paving owner and CEO Bob Mendenhall, with not a single dollar coming from state funding.

Las Vegas Paving is also the company that is currently working the construction process.

Other companies who have contributed throughout the donating process are Allegiant Travel Co., Millennium Gaming Inc. and Cannery Casino Resorts Capital Corp.

Mendenhall Center will house two basketball courts, academic classrooms, a film room and a training area.

“[Having the ceremony] in January made the most sense because we know it’s going to totally be done,” Livengood said. “We’re not going to have to explain anymore what it’s going to look like when it’s done.”

During the Sept. 8 Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents meeting, UNLV President Neal Smatresk recieved approval from the board to accept the Mendenhall Center. Smatresk noted there would be a “grand opening” before the Nevada, Reno game on Monday, only to be derailed by the ongoing labor of the facility.

Despite the delay of the opening of this state-of-the-art facility, Livengood said he is excited for the construction to be completed and noted this could be a good recruiting tool for years to come.

“I think that it’s not only from a structural standpoint in terms on how it looks as you come going west to east on our campus, but I think it’s going to be very attractive which is another feature that helps in the visibility of UNLV,” Livengood said. “At this time and in this day in age, in terms of this economy, having something built like this is a tremendous plus.”

Contact Danny Webster at [email protected]