After $30 million worth of renovations to McKale Center are finished, UA officials are hoping the 40-year-old building will “pop” in the eyes of fans, players and recruits alike.
The idea is to provide a bright red-and-blue look, complete with clean Sean Miller-style branding in the form of a big Arizona “A” at center court and in the student section.
“I think what you’re seeing with this is that it is very nice,” UA athletic director Greg Byrne said. “But I don’t think you’re going to come back and say, ‘Boy, is that excessive.’ “
A $6 million pledge by Tucsonans Cole and Jeannie Davis — who have contributed $10 million through the years to the UA athletic department — upped the total raised for the project to $12.5 million. The $30 million project will be the first phase of an overall $80 million renovation project.
Byrne said the total money raised should climb over $20 million by next month.
There won’t be a timetable for future phases until pledges exceed $30 million.
Byrne said the UA expects the entire $80 million project to be financed with donations, though he said funds from the Pac-12’s television contracts may be used for collateral in the event that the pledges default.
Here’s how it is scheduled to evolve:
- A new video board is nearly complete already and will be installed during UA’s winter break, in time for the Wildcats’ Pac-12 opener on Jan. 2 against Washington State.
It will have four 12-by-19 feet video boards plus a static promotional ring on top and two LED rings. It will be about 25 percent larger than the current video board.
- A new floor will be installed in time for next season, though it will look much the same as the current floor, with a big “A” logo at center court and the “Lute and Bobbi Olson Court” designation.
- All seating will be replaced. The lower seats will be blue, except for some red ones to make an “A” in the student section, while all upper seats will be in red, replacing even the old yellow nosebleeds. Lower seats will be padded, too.
- There will also be new hand rails and better lighting, with additional restrooms and concessions planned.
- Eventually, the men’s and women’s teams will have dual video rooms under the south end of McKale, next to their locker rooms.
- For games, the teams will funnel out of that area into a small corridor that leads directly to the south basket.
By having teams head straight north onto the floor, UA will be able to fill in the southwest and southeast corners with seating, though Byrne said overall McKale’s capacity will not change much from its current 14,545.
- Skybox seating might also be added on the concourse level if funding permits, Byrne said.
- Future phases aim to enclose or at least significantly upgrade the concourse outside McKale, creating additional room for concessions, services and murals.