Inside look at FSW’s Suncoast arena

FORT MYERS, Fla. – For nearly a year, the sights and sounds of construction on the new Suncoast Credit Union Arena have been non-stop.

“Every time you see something go up you feel a little bit of a connection to it,” said student Torrence Williamson. “We have a whole arena of our own, we have a home team, a home crowd. We’ll go together, get loud and support our guys.”

Although it’s still under construction, the $27 million state of the art facility is a great recruiting tool for coaches building their team.

“The student athletes are so excited about building something new and being the first ones to build something special and be the strong foundation for many years to come,” said women’s head basketball coach Kristie Ward.

“Everything they do here, the one or two years that they’re in this program, they’re going to be down in the history books of what started at FSW and bringing back athletics and the Bucs,” said Dr. Ward.

The newly-added volleyball and basketball teams will call the arena home as the school’s revamped athletic program continues to grow. Athletic director Carl McAloose already has high expectations.

“You know one of these days too, the big thing that we’re looking for is to hang some championship banners in here,” said McAloose.

School officials don’t just expect success on the court but also a slam-dunk for the local economy as well.

“Hotels, restaurants around the area, all the retail they’ll see big dividends based on this arena,” said McAloose. “We’re already programming a lot of different events including concerts and graduations.”

The school is anticipating a $5 million impact on surrounding businesses in just the first year.

With every rivet, crews are a step closer to FSW’s November 28 deadline, which is the day before both the men and women’s teams take the court for the first time.

Skanska Construction Project Manager Lauren Bird says they’re right on schedule for the grand opening.

“We work really hard with FSW to make sure we get whatever they need open on time.”

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