- By David Jablonski Staff Writer
Phase two of the three-year, $72 million renovation of UD Arena will probably be the busiest of them all, arena director Scott DeBolt said.
In some ways, it’s well underway because work continued throughout the 2017-18 basketball season. There was a gap after the First Four and before the Winter Guard International events in April in which important work was finished building the footers for a new exterior wall on the north end. Everything is on schedule, DeBolt said.
However, not until after three UD graduation ceremonies and one by Sinclair Community College the weekend of May 5-6, will the arena become a closed-down construction zone. Only the administration offices and the Donoher Center will remain open at that point. It was the same as last summer when phase one began.
“All (the phases) are challenging in their own way,” DeBolt said Tuesday, “but there’s definitely a lot of heavy lifting here in this one.”
The biggest change fans will see next November when the Dayton Flyers open the season will be the new entrances on the north and east side of the arena and a new concourse on the north side. The new south and west entrances and new west concourse will follow a year later during the third and final phase of the project.
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“This season is actually the (phase) I’m most interested in seeing because we’ll be half new and half old,” DeBolt said. “The north and east side will have continuous concourse around the outside. There will be new concession stands and new graphics, new branding and all that.”
In phase two, new club seats will be added between the 200 and 300 levels. In the past, an aisle separated those levels. That aisle will no longer be on the east side this year. Fans in the 100 and 200 levels will walk up and exit to the concourse, while fans in the 300 and 400 seats will walk down and exit to the concourse.
The wider concourse will give fans more room to move.
“People will notice that right away,” DeBolt said. “They’ll notice that flow.”
Among the other changes coming in phase two are:
• Approximately 3,200 seats in the 300 and 400 levels on the east side of the arena will be replaced — like last year, they won’t be for sale. They will have plastic backs and padded seats. In the past, backs and seats were plastic. There will also be cupholders in these seats for the first time. There will also be 126 club seats added on that side of the arena.
Last year, Dayton replaced all the seats in the 100 and 200 levels. In phase three, seats in the 300 and 400 levels on the west side will be replaced, and clubs seats will be added on the west side.
• The corner video boards will move back 35 feet or so, and two of them will be flipped to allow people in the 300 and 400 levels to see them.
• A new team store will be built. The initial plan, DeBolt said, is for it to be open Monday through Friday during normal business hours. Fans can buy or pick up tickets there and purchase UD merchandise even on days when there isn’t a game or the arena is hosting a different event.
“The store may or may not be open by the start of the 2018-19 season,” DeBolt said, “but we’re hoping to have it up and operational by conference play.”