The University of Dayton Arena’s $12.5 million renovation will feature new premier seating, an expanded concourse and changes to the building’s exterior, the Dayton Daily News learned in an exclusive inspection of blueprints.
The plans — under review by city building officials and made available to the newspaper under Ohio’s public records laws — are a first look into the biggest changes at the 47-year-old UD Arena in more than a decade.
University officials are expected to formally announce the renovations at the legendary venue Thursday morning.
“After months of research, reviews and planning, the University of Dayton will make an announcement Thursday on a critically important project in the history of the university, University of Dayton athletics, UD Arena and its championship basketball programs,” said Doug Hauschild, a Dayton athletics spokesman, in a statement.
The university conducted a feasibility study in January 2016 and invited fans to take an online survey to field feedback on the game-day experience and thoughts on what improvements were most needed.
Many of the features surveyed appear to be part of the blueprints.
The newspaper offered UD officials the opportunity to sit-in during the blueprint inspection and answer questions, but the university declined. Descriptions in this story are based on the blueprints, potential renovations previewed in the 2016 season ticket holder survey and interviews of persons familiar with UD Arena and similarly-aged facilities.
New seats, revenue
Basketball fans entering from the southeast will come through a new lobby facing Edwin C. Moses Boulevard, the blueprints show. Ticketing and a new team store will be housed adjacent to the new lobby.
An expanded concourse with new bathrooms will sweep around the arena outside the 200 level, blueprints show.
Inside, at least a dozen new club boxes will be built parallel to the sidelines between the 200-300 levels, according to the blueprints. At four to 30 seats per box, those seats would potentially feature in-seat wait service, more leg room, preferred parking and access to a lounge, according to the 2016 ticket holder survey and blueprints.
FIRST LOOK: Images of proposed UD Arena changes
New terrace suites at the 200 level will anchor the arena’s four corners, the blueprints show. Such terraces are known in the sports and entertainment industry for unobstructed sight lines and ability to generate ancillary income.
The 2016 survey describes these terrace boxes as having fixed seating for approximately six to eight people with limited standing-room only space in an “upscale, climate controlled lounge area located directly behind the seats.”
UD appears poised to use the attractive suites as a way to generate money for the school’s flagship athletic fund. The 2016 survey indicates purchase of a suite could “require an annual donation contribution to the Champions & Scholars Fund,” a tax deductible donation.
“That’s very common in the college space,” said Bryan Furey, senior vice president of corporate partnerships at Spectra by Comcast Spectacor, a sports and hospitality firm.
Terrace seating at similar arenas could go for $25,000 to $50,000 a year under a multi-year contract, Furey said.
“It’s guaranteed revenue for the venue,” he said. “We added terrace seating in the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., and they sold out with 12 months.”
Not immediately clear is the impact renovations will have on current ticket holders, though the blueprints may raise concerns. Seats in sections 202, 211, 214 and 223 are specifically listed in the blueprints as “partially obscured by the terrace suites,” and the first row of seats in sections 101, 108, 109 and 116 appear to be removed.
Still, the overall seating capacity will only slightly adjust. The arena currently seats 13,455; the new basketball seating capacity will be 13,450, according to the blueprints.
UD officials declined to answer specific questions about seating.
The exterior rendering appears to feature windows at the top of the 400 level nosebleed wings. The blueprint renderings appear to be consistent with exterior renderings in the 2016 survey.
The university will apparently replace the scoreboard and remove a broadcast crows nest in the rafters, potentially adjusting the way games are viewed on television.
Additionally, an HVAC contractor and piping are referenced in the blueprints, though it was not immediately clear if the entire arena would receive air conditioning.
Home to key events
Long a focal point for the region at large, UD Arena opened Dec. 6, 1969.
A $13.1 million renovation in 2002 added premium seating, brought seats closer to the court and improved the concessions area. The Boesch Lounge was remodeled at that time, and the Time Warner Flight Deck was built on the other side of the arena in the upper deck.
The arena served as the inaugural home of the NCAA Men’s Basketball First Four in 2011 — a distinction it is scheduled to hold through at least 2022. The renovations could be aimed in part at securing additional years as host.
The facility serves additional purposes beyond hosting men’s and women’s basketball. Graduation exercises for UD and Sinclair Community College were held at the arena over the weekend, and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted launched his bid for governor in the suites on Monday.
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Staff Writer David Jablonski contributed reporting.