Funding enables early construction

Spinnaker

UNF began construction about two weeks ago on a $1.5 million amphitheater, which will be completed earlier than projected due to increased funding,  UNF officials said.

The amphitheater, which is scheduled to be completed by May 15, and will be located next to the new student union, was funded from many donors, but the primary source was JB Coxwell Construction.

The company recently donated $450,000 in labor costs, said Shari Shuman, vice president of Administrative Finance.

“The project wasn’t supposed to be completed until much later, but when we realized the funding was available, we decided to move forward with the construction,” Shuman said.

President of JB Coxwell Construction, David Coxwell, said he’s glad he was able to help the university.

“When President Delaney came and asked for our help, we didn’t give it a second thought,” Coxwell said. “It was a definite yes.”

Coxwell currently has 15 employees working on the site daily, and many are graduates of UNF.

“Our ties to the university are very strong,” he said.

After the completion of the project, it is unclear whether the university will rent the amphitheater, which will seat between 5,000 and 7,000 people, to local drama teams or community organizations, said
Zak Ovadia, director of Facilities Planning.

The music department will consider using the amphitheater for outdoor concerts and ensembles as long as it is cost-effective, said Lois Scott, office manager of the music department.

“The music department is limited on how much money it can spend on venues for performances,” Scott said.

The amphitheater will enhance student life and offer new opportunities to clubs and university organizations, said Lucy Croft, assistant vice president of Student Affairs.

“I was in favor of the amphitheater from the very beginning,” Croft said.  “I’m really excited about this project.”

In addition to new opportunities for the university, the amphitheater will provide a great place for main-stage events, said Alford Whitaker, a committee chairman for Osprey Productions.

When the new Osprey Productions leadership is elected this May, the budget will be decided, and the calendar of events will be set in place, Whitaker said.

“We will also consider moving Battle of the Bands to the amphitheater,” Whitaker said. “This amphitheater will offer an alternative to the Arena.”

E-mail Josh Gore at [email protected]