KNOXVILLE (UTSports.com) - The University of Tennessee Athletics Department announced Wednesday that renovations to Thompson-Boling Assembly Center and Arena and construction of Pratt Pavilion Basketball Practice Facility are going well.
This is the first major renovation of Thompson-Boling Arena since it opened in 1987. In that time more than 13 million patrons have attended thousands of arena events, including basketball games, concerts, UT and high school graduations and other special events.
Pratt Pavilion will house two full-size gymnasiums, one each for the men's and women's basketball teams, as well as space for sports medicine, strength training, film study and recruiting. The facility is still under construction; however, both teams were able to begin practice in the facility on Friday, Oct. 12. The building is scheduled for full completion in November.
Funding for the project is coming from donors to the Campaign for Tennessee Basketball and revenue from new premium seating areas such as Thompson-Boling Arena luxury seats and loge seats. The projected cost for the renovations is estimated at $20 million with construction of Pratt Pavilion estimated at $16 million.
"Thompson-Boling Arena has been the home to Tennessee's basketball teams for almost 20 years. It has served student-athletes, fans and coaches well. It is time now to prepare Thompson-Boling Arena for the next 20 years and enhance the fan experience while creating a more competitive environment for both basketball teams," said Mike Hamilton, men's athletic director.
The current phase, Phase I, began in March 2007 and includes new seats for the entire arena, a center-hung scoreboard and concouse refurbishments, such as graphics and other amenities. Another key element of Phase I is adding load-bearing capacity to the arena roof structure, which is no longer adequate for some modern touring production requirements, and painting the ceiling tiles black.
Phase I also includes new luxury suites and loge seating, which are a primary funding source for much of the renovations. The 32 luxury suites are located in the existing north balcony of Thompson-Boling Arena. The loge area features 166 side court seats, located directly below the luxury suites, and includes private adjoining hospitality areas. Most of Phase I is already complete, with crews currently putting finishing touches on the luxury suites. Concourse graphics will continue to be added through November.
The Tennessee men's basketball team opens its season in Thompson-Boling Friday, Nov. 1, with the Lady Vols opening their season Sunday, Nov. 4.