UD Arena upgrade: 10 things we learned from athletic director Neil Sullivan

9:53 a.m. Monday, May 15, 2017 Sports
Dayton Athletic Director Neil Sullivan talks to WHIO's Larry Hansgen on Monday, May 15, 2017, in Dayton. Jeremy Ratliff/Staff

Dayton Flyers Athletic Director Neil Sullivan joined WHIO’s Larry Hansgen on the Miami Valley Morning News on Monday to talk about changes coming to UD Arena.

»RELATED: Listen to the full interview

The University of Dayton announced a $72 million upgrade Thursday. Sullivan touched on numerous aspects of the plan. Here are 10 highlights:

1. Early reviews: The reaction to the UD Arena changes has been overwhelmingly positive, Sullivan said.

“I think our fans know what this building has meant to this community and the university over the last 48 years,” Sullivan said, “and they’re excited to have it be that meaningful over the next generation.

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2. First concern: The top priority for the arena was fixing aging infrastructure.

“Anytime you have a building pushing 50 years old, there are some things that need to be done that maybe aren’t obvious to the general fan,” Sullivan said.

3. Second priority: UD also wanted to improve the fan experience, Sullivan said, and give “the sports fan the modern amenities they expect.”

4. Changing seats: Approximately 97 percent of the seats will stay where they are, Sullivan said. The other seats will move for “a variety of reasons, mostly due to building codes and (Americans with Disabilities Act) seating.”

5. Job underway: Work on improving the infrastructure started a few days ago, Sullivan said, and will pick up with intensity in a few weeks after a few more events at the arena.

New seats in the lower arena will be installed. A new scoreboard over the court will be installed, and new ribbon boards on the north and south end will show out-of-town scores among other things.

6. Finish date: The upgrade will be complete in November 2019, just in time for the university to celebrate the 50th birthday of the arena.

“We wish we could take credit for timing it up that way,” Sullivan said, “but it’s just a little bit of luck and maybe a little Tom Frericks good fortune.”

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7. No disruption: The reason UD wants to divide the work over three years is it doesn’t want to cause disruption at the arena. Fans will see some construction areas, Sullivan said, and there may be areas screened off, but he said, “the building needs to be as fully functional as possible.”

8. More comfort: Climate control is coming to the arena, Sullivan said. The lack of air conditioning has long been a complaint of fans. Installing air conditioning also gives UD the opportunity to host events in the summer.

“Right now, the building is for the most part dormant in the summer,” Sullivan said. “It gets really hot in there.”

UD Arena will undergo a $72 million renovation over the next three years to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the facility in 2019, university officials announced today.

9. Basketball facility: Even with all the changes, UD Arena will still be a basketball-centered arena.

“When we can fit other things in there that make some sense, we do,” Sullivan said, “but the building is essentially underground and surrounded by water, so 90-plus percent of the seats are all permanent fixed in concrete. Fans won’t see much of the lower bowl being modified to host different events.”

10. Expensive project: UD will fund the $72 million upgrade in several ways. Sullivan called the private support the most critical part. He mentioned Larry Connor, a local real estate mogul, “who stepped up in a big way to get this going.”

UD has raised tens of millions of dollars, Sullivan said, but still has millions to go. It will also will fund the project by raising the price of seat licenses for season-ticket holders and will work with the university “on some of the capital budgeting pieces around supporting infrastructure.”