DANVILLE – In a couple weeks, renovations are expected to start in the large meeting room at the David S. Palmer Arena.
The arena’s board approved the approximately $200,000 contract this month with McDowell Builders of Sidell. Money for the work comes from state funding the arena received.
Arena officials learned in 2014, $850,000 in state funding had been earmarked as part of former Gov. Pat Quinn's Illinois Jobs Now program to be used for arena building maintenance. The grant money had been on hold for several years and was released last year.
The arena board determined a new roof was the top priority and it was replaced last year with more than half of the grant money. Board members approved a $424,327 contract with Adkisson Construction of Tuscola for the roof replacement.
Arena General Manager Peter Blackmon said the meeting room will see be a “floor-to-ceiling renovation.” The room, which is dark and has old ceiling and carpeting, also will have a new air conditioning unit put in just for that space, Blackmon said.
Construction is scheduled to start June 17.
“We are hoping to have it done by the end of August,” Blackmon said, adding that there is some allowance for additional time.
“We want to be back in business before ice season begins,” he added.
By having the meeting room unavailable for several weeks, the arena will suffer a little with revenue not coming in from groups using the space.
“We have a pretty consistent use of those rooms,” Blackmon said. But he said they hope to make up for it through increased usage of the room in the years to come with the renovated facility.
The room is used for meetings, parties and other events, such as for the Festival of Trees.
In other arena work, the arena has its new scoreboard and one set of restrooms in the back hallway also has been renovated, with plans to possibly renovate the others.
Blackmon said there is “a little bit of money left” with the grant funding.
“We’ve got some plans,” he said, adding that they’ve also put a little bit away in contingency for the meeting room renovation and other work.
He said they are hopeful to address the other arena restrooms with the remaining balance and see what else they can do.
Blackmon said he’s working on a couple shows to come to the arena. The Dustbowl basketball games also will be in July.
Arena employee Trish Ceader also is starting a Wiffle Ball League this summer. The games will be inside the arena when it’s not being used. There will be two fields back to back. Volunteers are doing this with proceeds going back to the arena, Blackmon said.
The Danville Civic Center opened in 1980 and was later named for Mayor David S. Palmer, who was instrumental in its development.
An Adult Co-Ed Wiffle Ball League is starting at David S. Palmer Arena, 100 W. Main St. It will be 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesdays from June 26-Aug. 7. Participants must be at least 18 years to play. Registration fee is $300. Registration deadline is June 17. Teams must consist of at least five men and five women, with a maximum of 20 people on each team roster. There will be concessions and alcohol available to purchase; 50/50 raffles; home run derby; and a Glow-In-The Dark All Star Glow Game. Contact: Send a text message to Trish Ceader at (217) 474-5817.