Athletics + Academics

Lynn Farrell Arena at Hastings College
Hastings, Neb.

By Tyson Pearsall

Hastings, Neb., can be considered a small city capable of creating big noise, especially when it comes to game night in the Lynn Farrell Arena at Hastings College.

The 79,000-square-foot arena is quite unique considering the facility not only meets the needs of a growing athletic program but also provides additional classroom space without constructing a stand-alone classroom building. Completed in 2002, this 2,200-seat, top-loading arena is home court for the Bronco basketball and volleyball teams as well as part of the Osborne Family Sports Complex, which also includes a 3,000-seat football stadium completed in 2000.

An arena and much more

A little recent history lesson: In May 1997, Hastings College announced a multimillion-dollar fund-raising campaign known as the Osborne Legacy Project. The campaign's $15 million goal was to provide Hastings College with the finest athletic facilities of any small college in the region. The final phase of the Osborne Legacy Project was the $8.5 million Lynn Farrell Arena, which also includes a weight room, locker rooms, a full athletic training area, administrative offices, meeting rooms, academic classrooms and the Hall of Fame room.

DLR Group (responsible for the architecture, engineering, interior design, code analysis, cost estimating and construction administration) was invited into the design-build process for this project with Kiewit Construction when significant programming and planning already had been completed. DLR Group balanced programmatic needs with budgetary constraints by verifying the planning and suggesting space reductions, which translated into cost reductions. Further suggestions and cost savings were found through a value engineering process undertaken on materials and mechanical systems. To support the cost of the arena, classroom and administrative spaces were incorporated into the design to defer needs and to allow for fund-raising opportunities from both athletic and academic donor bases.

Athletic side of the spectrum

Lynn Farrell Arena replaces Kiewit Gymnasium as the home site for Bronco basketball and volleyball. Fran Hummel, athletic director for Hastings College, feels that the Kiewit Gymnasium certainly served its purpose, but the time had come to move on.

"Kiewit Gymnasium held approximately half the number of people compared to the Lynn Farrell Arena and was a two-sided, bottom-loading facility," Hummel says. "The view points were not as good, and the facility had just become outdated."

Adjacent to the new football stadium within the Osborne Family Sports Complex, the new arena contains full athletic support facilities for all the college's athletes and provides a fan-friendly atmosphere during sporting events.

When it comes to game time, the arena allows spectators to enter on the concourse level above the event floor and descend to their seats. The top-loading approach is a distinctive strength to the arena in which gates lead to aisles where fans have access to their seats without walking alongside the court.

"The top-loading approach gives fans a view of the entire court and seating area, making the arena seem quite large," Hummel says. The lobby also has an elevator for handicap access to the arena floor, which is situated 13 feet below the building's entrance level and is marked for one volleyball or basketball court, two volleyball courts, or two basketball courts.

Design associated with quick arena transitions was a key factor with this project.

"The setup and breakdown for competition is very easy," Hummel says. "We can go from practice to a competition environment in less than an hour."

The new arena has been well received by members of Hastings College, the local community and by visiting institutions within the GPAC Conference.

"Presidents of institutions within the conference say it's one of the finest facilities within our conference, if not the NAIA," says Dr. Phillip Dudley, president of Hastings College.

Especially since it boasts several generous homes away from home court. A total of 445 full-size lockers fill nine different locker rooms in the arena. There are 144 two-foot-wide lockers in the football locker room alone. The staff locker room has 30 lockers, which can be used for overflow during tournaments. Separate locker rooms also exist for the basketball and volleyball teams, and guest locker rooms are also part of the facility.

A 4,500-square-foot weight room is another amenity associated with the Lynn Farrell Arena. This facility contains state-of-the-art weight and cardiovascular equipment and is available for use by all Hastings College students. Roughly L-shaped with available corner space for stretching and exercise bikes, the weight room is on the east side of the arena with windows lining the inner arena wall providing a view down onto the arena floor. The wall opposite the windows is lined with mirrors, and the surface throughout the entire weight training facility is rubber-coated.

A fully equipped training room exists within the arena with hydrotherapy tubs, taping tables and storage. A second smaller training room is located at the arena floor level to use during games. Hummel feels both training rooms are a plus for the facility.

"We are able to do all different types of rehabilitation right here at the arena, which is very convenient and advantageous," Hummel says. The training rooms provide treatment and care associated with physical, preventative and rehabilitation therapy through the aid of three certified athletic trainers and 12 student trainers.

Other key components that complete the new arena include meeting rooms, administrative offices for the entire athletic program and the Hall of Fame room that provides a view of the action taking place on the arena floor.

Academic side

The Fleharty Educational Center represents the academic wing of the Lynn Farrell Arena.

"Hastings College wanted a venue that felt like a major college athletic facility but also met the needs of the college academically at the same time," says Pat Phelan, the DLR Group project manager for the arena.

Sixty percent of the Hastings College student body takes a course at the Fleharty Educational Center, which houses the Department of Physical Education and the Business and Economic portions of the Department of Communication Arts, Business and Economics.

"It's nice when you piece athletics and academics together, it takes care of a lot of faculty concerns," Dudley says.

The academic wing consists of five new classrooms, one computer lab and 22 staff offices. All classrooms feature the latest in educational technology giving both students and teachers the upper hand. Each of the rooms includes drop-down screens, wireless control panels for computers, projection systems and a smart podium. Operable walls that open to create a single 3,000-square-foot room separate four of the classrooms. The new technology approach within the Fleharty Center also has led to numerous classroom technology upgrades across the campus.

Designed to recruit

DLR Group created the building design with acute sensitivity to the existing master plan and the campus environment and context.

"On the outside, the arena needed to tie in with the existing football stadium and nail the big college feel on the inside," Phelan says. "We listened to what the college wanted and found a way to make it all work within an acceptable budget."

The walls of the arena are built with 122,000 bricks and 122,000 concrete blocks and stand 37 feet high. Forty-three heating and air conditioning units (Kiewit Gymnasium did not have air conditioning) are located on the roof for individualized climate control throughout the entire building. The arena is the largest building on campus and stands out significantly when recruits visit Hastings College.

"For today's athletes, image is everything," Hummel says. "We have a nice facility that promotes a great environment for our current athletes and is a great showpiece for recruits."

Combined with an aggressive recruiting effort, Hummel believes that the new arena plays a major role in bringing an increase of recruits to the college.

"Based on the comments made by athletes and parents, it makes a big difference when touring our arena," Hummel says.

Tyson Pearsall works in business development for DLR Group at the collegiate sports level. He can be reached at

Hastings College:

DLR Group:

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