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Local

Two Convocation Center projects recommended to NIU Board of Trustees

The Northern Illinois University women's basketball team plays Miami (OH) on Jan. 31 at The NIU Convocation Center in DeKalb.
The Northern Illinois University women's basketball team plays Miami (OH) on Jan. 31 at The NIU Convocation Center in DeKalb.

DeKALB – Two projects designed to upgrade amenities in Northern Illinois University’s Convocation Center and expected to cost more than $1.5 million were recommended to the board of trustees for approval during a committee meeting Thursday.

The university’s Finance, Audit, Compliance, Facilities and Operations Committee first reached consensus on a plan to update and renovate the Nelson Suite in the Convocation Center’s main arena. The suite, which is available for rent for NIU fans during athletic games and events, would receive new lighting, seating, flooring material and a lounge and food service area.

The project would be funded with $275,000 from a donation directed to intercollegiate athletics.

A second proposal was made to replace the video board and scoreboard in the main arena, which have been in the building since its construction in 2002.

The age of the system creates a need for frequent repair and maintenance which is increasingly difficult because replacement parts are no longer in production and unavailable from the manufacturer, according to university documents.

A similar project for the center’s system was introduced and approved by the board in fiscal 2015, but not executed because of competing priorities and overall cash flow concerns.

The university is seeking a partner to buy the naming rights for the arena, and held an open house Feb. 7. NIU athletic director Sean Frazier has said bids can start being accepted at the end of the month.

Board Chairman Wheeler Coleman said with all of the priorities the university is undertaking, he is not sure how high of a priority the scoreboard will be. He did say that he thinks the scoreboard is in need of replacement.

If the project is approved, it will cost $1.27 million, and NIU will enter a five-year lease agreement with annual payments of about $254,000 for the project.

NIU’s board is expected to vote on both projects during its next regularly scheduled meeting March 8.

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