An old relic made new: Hearnes Center receives much-needed facility updates

The multipurpose facility houses Missouri gymnastics, indoor track and field, volleyball and wrestling.
Hearnes Center, home of MU volleyball, wrestling and gymnastics.

Opening its doors in 1972, Hearnes Center has been a landmark of MU’s campus for almost half a century. With a seating bowl full of rickety seats, Hearnes gives visitors a glimpse into the past. While the seats are old, the features seen from the bowl are now brand new.

Over the last year, Hearnes has had multiple renovations done to improve the facility. Some restorations were planned — renovating the sports medicine and players’ facilities and putting in a new scoreboard — while completely replacing the hardwood court floor was prompted in response to flooding throughout the arena in September.

In the south hallway, the walkway which separates the main arena at Hearnes from Hearnes Fieldhouse, Missouri wrestling and student athletes using the sports medicine room, had a sauna of sorts.

Before the fall, there was no fancy steam room with hot air. Rather, the rooms in the hallway lacked air conditioning. Finishing the project in the fall of 2018, the two rooms finally received air conditioners, as well as small improvements, including cold tubs.

Throughout the process of installing air conditioning, the wrestling locker room was completely remodeled. Taking down a wall with a storage closet, the room was opened up to create more space for student-athletes. Along with new lockers, there was also new furniture and a nutrition area installed. The middle of the room is taken up by a large couch with a flat screen television and video game console.

“Coach [Brian Smith] didn’t necessarily want a separate lounge,” director of facility operations Nick Britton said. “We just needed a space where they could go to lounge within their locker room.”

Replaced over winter break, the new scoreboard has top-to-bottom video screens on all four sides and, like its predecessor, can be moved up and down on wires from floor to ceiling. Because three sports — gymnastics, volleyball and wrestling — compete under the same roof, having the flexibility of raising and lowering the scoreboard allows for fans to have a more comfortable viewing experience depending on the sport.

While the projects were completed simultaneously, the scoreboard and court were completed separately. The court installation began after a water main break outside Hearnes in September caused flooding throughout the arena and the floor was deemed unsalvageable.

The new court shows off MU’s diamond “Mizzou” design on the endzones of the court — the out of bounds areas behind the back lines. It’s the same pattern as the endzones on Faurot Field across the street.

Unlike the old court, which was portable, the new court is permanent. The floor type was picked to maximize vibration during volleyball practices and games. Made by Robbins Sports Surfaces, the court is comprised of a multi-layered subfloor and a maple top layer. There are also anchors between the two floors that help give the floor stability.

The type of floor is used by a number of colleges across the country, as well as NBA teams including the Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves.

“It’s all about vibration control,” Britton said. “There’s been a lot of research that’s went into the vibration control on the floors. We selected this one based some of those qualities.”

While exact numbers weren’t provided, the south hallway project took within approximately $1 million to renovate and the scoreboard was between $750,000 to $1 million. The new court was paid for by MU’s insurance company as a payout for the water damage.

With a layer of sealer currently on the court, a protective tarp will be placed over it for Missouri gymnastics’ meet against Georgia Friday. The floor will be fully cured and ready when wrestling returns home for its dual against Oklahoma State on Feb. 16. and when volleyball starts spring practice.

Edited by Adam Cole | acole@themaneater.com

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