UD Arena’s exterior was renovated, along with its interior. Cover photo courtesy of Shawn McLaws/Rooted Media
The University of Dayton Arena is putting the final touches on a $76.2 million, three-year upgrade to one of the nation’s most famous basketball arenas.
The transformation of UD Arena is the biggest project in the university’s 169 year history, with construction starting in 2017 and wrapping up in the next few weeks. All of the major projects are done, meaning the renovations will not impact the upcoming season, but there will still be some behind-the-scenes projects going on.
UD Arena director Scott DeBolt is excited about the renovations being made.
“You don’t get opportunities like this very often — to make a dramatic change and particularly to an iconic building like UD Arena,” DeBolt said.
The transformation of UD Arena has three phases, which attend to different parts of the building. Some of the major renovations being implemented include more seating (including seating for those with disabilities), new locker rooms, improved Wi-Fi, air conditioning, improved lighting, new elevators and a new media room.
One particularly exciting addition is the air conditioning in the arena. For the first time, the arena will be able to control the building climate throughout the year. In order to cool the building, the arena will take groundwater naturally pumped away from the building and send it to a chiller that runs around the facility.
The two events that benefit the most from the addition of air conditioning are the first-year commencement and graduation ceremonies. The air conditioning system also opens up possibilities for UD to host more events in the summer.
There will be new LED lighting installed above the basketball court. These lights will improve in-person viewing as well as the view on television and in photographs. The new lights will be especially beneficial for photographers who have voiced complaints about UD Arena’s current lighting system, which is not conducive to quality photography.
Coaches, players and reporters will be able to enjoy a more professional looking media room. The media room will allow Coach Anthony Grant and players to speak to the media after games. The old media room was part of a storage area off a ramp coming from ground level to court level. The new media room will be relocated to a room above the court-level locker rooms.
Dayton athletic director Neil Sullivan shared that there are some new features not revealed until recently, including the names of two suites on each side of the Boesch Lounge.
“It’s a neat thing our staff came up with, so we went with it,” Sullivan said.
These suites will be called the Orville and Wilbur lofts in honor of the Wright Brothers. The staff working on the renovations came up with these names as a tasteful way to pay tribute to the rich aviation history in Dayton.
The completion of the renovations paired with the excitement for the upcoming basketball season has led to a dramatic increase in the demand for season tickets.
Senior associate athletic director Adam Tschuor reports that 95 percent of tickets in the whole building have been renewed for the upcoming year, with more than 90 percent of fans renewing the 300- and 400-level seats. However, every ticket has not yet been sold. UD holds 1,100 tickets per game for students to come and show their support for their fellow flyers.
The revenue for the renovations at the arena have come from a number of sources, including corporate sponsorship, external private business partnerships, philanthropy, ticket revenue and general university support. This means that ticket prices will increase periodically in order to mitigate the costs of the arena upgrades.
The completed renovation of the arena is on schedule to end in time for the arena’s 50th birthday. The first game played at the arena took place on Dec. 6, 1969, against Bowling Green. The university has celebratory plans in the works to honor the history and commemorate the reopening of the arena at the same time.
Over the years, UD Arena has hosted many events besides basketball games, including four performances by Elvis. Now that UD Arena has been refurbished and refreshed, the arena is looking to the future. UD Arena will be able to host even more events in the next few years, both basketball games and non-athletic events.
The arena was on display on Nov. 9 with the men’s regular-season opener against Indiana State, ending with a Flyer victory (86-81).
Fans attending games are encouraged to arrive early to events because of UD’s new metal detectors, in addition to the changes in seating at the arena.
Instructions for purchasing student tickets for future games can be found on UD’s Red Scare page. Students can log on to Porches to purchase discounted student vouchers to claim tickets for each home, regular season men’s basketball game. Single-game student tickets are also available on a first-come, first-serve basis.