Sparks rained from the ceiling to the floor at UD Arena. The University of Dayton wasn’t practicing an indoor fireworks show in advance of Dayton Flyers men’s basketball coach Anthony Grant’s debut in three months.
The sparks fell from a welding torch as workers continued construction in phase one of the three-year, $72 million transformation project. The arena will look better than ever when it turns 50 years old in 2019. For the moment, it looks like a person in the middle of a face-lift.
PHOTOS: Phase one of renovations
UD Arena Director Scott DeBolt took local media on a tour of the construction Monday, handing out hard hats and showing he’s hip to the young Twitter crowd by saying “It’s going to be a loud in there, and we spell that with a ‘W.’”
UD announced the renovation on May 11. Work on phase one began in late May. That work is now halfway complete, DeBolt said, and is on schedule to conclude by the time the Dayton men’s basketball team opens the season against Ball State on Nov. 10 at UD Arena.
However, UD doesn’t know if the work will be done in time for the men’s and women’s teams to play their annual Red and Blue scrimmages in October. UD has several contingency plans in case it can’t play the game at the arena but didn’t reveal them Monday.
Here’s a rundown of where the renovation project is in week 10:
Seating: The seats in the 100 and 200 levels were removed. New seats, a little more than 6,000 of them, will be installed in the beginning of September. They will remain blue but will be a different shade. The navy blue will match UD’s new color scheme.
Corner suites: In each of the four corners of the arena, work has started on building the four concourse-level terrace suites. Fans will not be able to sit in them until the 2018-19 season, but the cantilever decks will be built in phase one.
Workers knocked holes in the wall where four offices used to be. Those offices will be part of the suites. When that part of the renovation is complete, 12 to 14 fans will sit or stand in the suites to watch the games.
Roof work: There were four mobile lifts with aerial work platforms on the floor at the arena on Monday. Workers were busy “adding bracing along the center of the roof structure to allow some extra weight for not only the center-hung video board but some other stuff like snow load that we’ve experienced over the years,” DeBolt said.
Video board: The old center-hung scoreboard came down early in the project. A new four-sided scoreboard, with video capabilities, arrives next week and will be installed over the next month and a half.
TV viewing: Workers removed the old crow’s nest where TV cameras filmed the games. A temporary platform will be built for the TV cameras in the last three rows of the 411 section, looking down on the center of the court. It will give viewers at home a better angle. A permanent structure will follow in the summer of 2018.
Outside arena: Anyone driving by UD Arena this summer can see trenches being dug around the perimeter of the arena. This has to do with the flooding problems the facility has had over the years.
“Our existing wells are gravity fed as far as the water going to the river,” DeBolt said. “What we’re doing with this is putting in a pressurized pipe that will actually force water into the river so when we have those high-water levels, we don’t have the problem of it flowing back to us. It will greatly reduce the risk factor for a flood in here.”