Dynamic New Arena Coming to University of St. Thomas

By Eric Althoff

SAINT PAUL, Minn.—Ryan Companies is teaming up with Crawford Architects to realize the Lee and Penny Anderson Arena at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota’s capital city. The sporting facility is named in honor of a couple from Naples, Florida, for their donation of $75 million to the largest private university in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Ryan, the design-builder, will be sending in professionals from its studio sub-enterprise, called Ryan A&E. Their plans entail not just the hockey arena itself but also practice facilities for the Division I men’s and women’s hockey and basketball programs. The Anderson Arena, which is estimated to cost $175 million total, will also be able to host career fairs, commencements, conferences as well as other academic programs in addition to sports.

Inside, the arena allows for quick changes to seating configurations to suit various events. For game days, the seats are set up to increase the sense of connection between the players in the arena and fans in the seats.

Crawford Architects’ David Murphy, owner and senior principal, said that his firm is thrilled to be collaborating with Ryan on bringing this state-of-the-art sports arena to St. Thomas’s campus.

“Crawford Architects welcomes the challenge to create this iconic, ‘new-era’ arena complex that will become a legacy for generations of Tommies to come,” Murphy said, referring to the school team’s nickname.

On the exterior, the designers are uniting various elements of the school’s previous Gothic architectural motif and uniting them with a more modern style. The designers are aiming for LEED Silver certification.

In statements emailed to School Construction News from Ryan Companies, officials from that firm said they needed to ensure the Anderson Arena walked that tightrope between respecting the old while making room for the future.

“The first [challenge] is being able to fit a large arena onto a tight, college campus site while ensuring it complements the adjacent buildings,” Lori Johnson, director of design management of Ryan A+E, said via email. “The second aspect is designing an arena that seamlessly transitions between its intended uses. Working with Crawford Architects, our goal is to ensure all student athletes, as well as the members of the community, using the facility will feel like it’s their own.”

“The substantial amount of work that needs to be done prior to the arena being built is a bit like a chess match,” added Aaron Sundberg, senior project manager of Ryan Companies US.

“Not only will we need to demolish a service center building that serves as the hub for utilities and infrastructure components, we will need to do it without causing any disruptions to the nearby buildings.

“This is a challenge we often face, but our team works efficiently to keep everything up and running.”

Ryan has worked at the University of St. Thomas for nearly two decades. Joining Ryan and Crawford on the project are structural engineer Meyer Borgman Johnson as well as mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) engineering firm IMEG Engineers.

If the current construction timeline holds, ground will be broken sometime in 2024, with a projected completion in the fall of 2025.