Coaches applaud UD Arena renovation plans

While most of the upgrades coming to the University of Dayton Arena are aimed at fans, the school’s basketball coaches are fired up for them, too.

“We’ll take all the help we can get — anything we can use to our advantage, we’re definitely going to do that,” Flyers men’s coach Anthony Grant said with a smile.

»RELATED: UD Arena plans strike right balance between past, present

All’s fair in love and recruiting, and every little bit helps when it comes to attracting the top talent in the country.

If all goes as planned, UD Arena will still be drenched in tradition — the same place where Johnny Davis, Jim Paxson, Roosevelt Chapman, Negele Knight, etc., played — but tricked out with all the diversions and enhancements of a new building.

»RELATED: Arena’s $72 million upgrade largest in UD history

»PHOTOS: What will UD Arena upgrades look like?

»WATCH: A look at the future of UD Arena

“It’s a transformation from the standpoint of the way the building will look, but when you walk in here, it’s still UD Arena,” said Grant, who was a UD player from 1983-87.

Having been hired in late March, he hasn’t been recruiting for the Flyers long, but Grant already knows how it feels to be on the other end of a Dayton recruiting pitch.

“I watched Dayton beat DePaul here as a senior in high school,” the Miami, Florida native, said of his first experience at the arena. “It was the last regular season game. It was electric. I fell in love with it as a 17-year-old. For me it’s been a love affair for a long time.”

»RELATED: UD Arena shines bright on night Flyers clinch A-10 title

He agreed the next phase of UD Arena will give his program the best of both worlds.

“We’re keeping the soul, you know what I mean? It’s going to be great for the community and definitely great for our team for a recruiting tool, so there are a lot of positives I think that will come out of this,” Grant said.

Shauna Green, who just finished her first season as coach of the women’s program after spending three as an assistant for the Flyers, shares that viewpoint.

“I think it will help us,” she said. “More people will want to come out and see the new arena and see the renovations and it’s gonna make the fans’ experience a lot better as well as the student athletes’ experience.”

Neither sounded concerned about losing anything in the renovations — not even the familiar smell Green recalled fondly during her introductory press conference last summer.

“I don’t think you can get that smell out of here,” she said laughing. “I think it’s ingrained in this place.”

Grant concurred — not about any particular odors, but with the general aura.

“To me what makes a building really is the history, the tradition,” Grant said. “This has got as rich a history as any place in the country that I’ve ever seen. When you look at the events that have been hosted here, the championships that have been won, just the tradition of UD basketball, the NCAA Tournament having the First Four here, there’s a lot of history and tradition.

“So now you put that on top of the renovations and the upgrades we’re giving this place, the facelift it will have, it takes it to another level. The core, the foundation of the tradition and all the history remains the same, so that’s unique when you’re able to do that.”

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