Construction of McKendree Metro Rec Plex advances

McKendree Ice Complex

A workman removes the forms from the completed walls. After the walls are lifted into place, the concrete work surfaces below will be demolished.
(Photo by Susan Meister, Lebanon Advertiser)

By Susan Meister, Lebanon Advertiser  

O’FALLON – Over the past few months, it hasn’t appeared that much has been happening at the McKendree Metro Rec Plex site at the northwest corner of the intersection of Scott Troy Road and U.S. Hwy. 50. There’s been lots of dirt mounded up and white hard hats moving about, but the real progress has been, literally, on the ground.

The new center, which will house two NHL-sized ice rinks, an aquatic center, a fitness area and more, is being constructed using “tilt-up construction.” In a tilt-up construction project, the building’s walls are poured directly at the jobsite in large slabs of concrete called “tilt-up panels” or “tiltwall panels.” These panels are then raised into position around the building’s perimeter forming the exterior walls.

Last week, John Arbeiter, Senior General Manager, and Kim Smallheer, General Manager, pointed out the progress on the walls, saying that they will be raised into position with cranes very soon.

“A ‘work table’ of concrete creates a work surface,” Smallheer explained, “and the walls are built with concrete, rebar, and insulation in place.” Electrical conduit is built into the walls as they are poured.

McKendree Ice Complex

Concrete work surfaces are built first, and then the walls are built upon them. (Photo by Susan Meister, Lebanon Advertiser)

Arbeiter said that this technique is often used on big box store construction, including the recently-completed Hobby Lobby in Fairview Heights. The technique can be used to build hundreds of feet of wall per day; it is faster and less expensive than other building techniques. More details can be found at

Once the walls are lifted into place and joined, the steel roof can be bolted on. Smallheer said that steel would be delivered at the end of March.

The complex will serve as home to the McKendree University hockey and aquatic teams and the Southern Illinois IceHawks, but Smallheer and Arbiter emphasized that the building is not just for University and club sports. While teams will train and compete there, memberships will be available. In addition, it will be open to the general public for classes and other fitness activities. Smallheer likened the concept to a “YMCA model.”

In fact, Smallheer mentioned that he has waiting for seven years to realize a rec center dream, first proposed to him when he went on staff at McKendree.


McKendree Ice Complex

Electrical conduit is built into the walls. Windows are framed in as well. (Photo by Susan Meister, Lebanon Advertiser)

The groundbreaking ceremony for the facility was held in October 2015. It is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2016. More about the McKendree Metro Rec Plex, including building schematics, is at The website is posting several career opportunities and advertises the opportunity to be a charter member. Aerial shots of the building site from Feb 15 are at