Deonte Burton is not a fan of Arena-Auditorium. Most visiting players/teams don't enjoy making a trip to the Dome of Doom, where Wyoming basketball has won over 75% of their games. Now Arena-Auditorium will undergo a renovation inside and out that will make one of the countries most unique arenas, also one of the best.
At halftime of Wyoming-Nevada basketball game on Saturday, the University announced that the $30M project is now fully funded. 36 private donors donated a combined $10M and were recognized at halftime. One of the bigger donors was Cheyenne businessman Maury Brown, who will have the court named after him. The other big announcement is that a 22 foot statute of Cowboy legend Kenny Sailors has been commissioned and will be part of the new entry. This is a well deserved salute and something that should have been done long ago. Sailors invented the jump shot and was a key contributor on the 1943 Cowboy team that won the NCAA Championship.
The inside renovations will begin this year after the completion of the basketball season, and will be ready in time for the 2014-15 season.
Phase I of the project will see entirely new spaces created for the Cowboy and Cowgirl locker rooms. New strength and conditioning, sports medicine and visiting locker-room areas will also be created in Phase I. The court area will be re-oriented 35 degrees and expanded to provide the Cowboys and Cowgirls with additional practice space.
The biggest change in fan amenities during Phase I of the project will be all new seating in the lower bowl below the concourse level. All lower-bowl seating will feature new padded chair-back seats that will be approximately 22 inches wide -- compared to the current Arena seats that are 18 inches wide. Courtside seating that will expand up to the edge of the court will help add to the Arena's outstanding home-court advantage for both Cowboy and Cowgirl games.
Two new video boards will be installed in Phase I along with a new video control room that will be linked to both the AA video boards and the video board in War Memorial Stadium. Phase I will be completed prior to the start of the 2014-15 men's and women's basketball seasons.
The players will love the new locker rooms and additional practice facilities. While fans will be much more comfortable in the larger seats. Putting more fans closer to action will definitely help the atmosphere as well. That has always been a strange aspect of Arena-Auditorium, that there was no seating close to the action. That can have a huge impact on the noise.
Phase two will take place after the 2014-15 season and be completed prior to the new season. It is impressive that the entire arena will be renovated inside and out with no disruption taking place during the season.
Phase II of the project will focus on development of new fan areas on the concourse level of the Arena. Those will include the new grand entrance to the Arena on the east side of the building, the creation of a new ticket office to serve Cowboy and Cowgirl fans, the addition of a Club Area that will also house the UW Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame and renovation of concession and rest room areas.
Can't wait to see this project enfold. There has been a lot of work done at War Memorial in the past several years, it was time for the Arena-Auditorium to be brought up to a similar level. There had been speculation of naming rights for the arena going to a corporation but that didn't end up happening. In the video I noticed that they went with "Smith Arena" on the exterior signage as a way to try and attract donors. I'm sure that Wyoming will continue to shop those naming rights. No reason to say no to extra revenue streams.