The University of Tennessee Athletics Department announced Thursday 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 to 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.
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 suites 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," said Mike Hamilton, men's athletics director. "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."
The renovations are being completed in two phases. Phase I began in March and includes new seats for the entire arena, a center hung scoreboard and concourse 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.
"Keeping Thompson-Boling Arena competitive and viable for touring events is an important aspect of the renovation," Hamilton said. "The arena's load bearing capacity for concert equipment such as speaker towers and video boards is no longer sufficient for many performers' shows. These renovations will make Thompson-Boling a much more attractive venue for concerts and other performances for years to come."
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. Phase I is scheduled for completion prior to Nov. 1. The arena will continue to be shut down for events until Oct. 19.
"We appreciate the donors and fans who continue to provide the tools we need to give our student-athletes the best possible experience," said Pat Summitt, head women's basketball coach. "Thompson-Boling Arena has always been a great arena and these improvements will make it even better."
Phase II is scheduled to include a new lighting system, new ticket kiosks and new food courts.
"The renovations and updates to Thompson-Boling Arena really exemplify the strong support and emphasis our university and athletics administers place on Tennessee basketball," said Bruce Pearl, head men's basketball coach. "With the construction of Pratt Pavilion and now the arena renovations, the University of Tennessee is making a statement that basketball is a top priority here. Our fans have demonstrated by their support of our basketball programs that these improvements are necessary."
Added Joan Cronan, women's athletics director, "This is such an exciting time for Tennessee basketball. We have two great coaches in Bruce Pearl and Pat Summitt, we are building a multi-million dollar practice facility, and now we are improving Thompson-Boling Arena so that it will maintain its status as one of the finest arenas in the country."
For more information on Thompson-Boling Arena renovations, log onto utsports.com or utladyvols.com.
The University of Tennessee athletics department is one of fewer than 10 intercollegiate programs in the country that receives no funds from state subsidies or taxes.
Story Courtesy: UT Sports Information & Public Relations