Sunday, February 24, 2013

UNC interested in renovating Smith Center, AD Bubba Cunningham says

CHAPEL HILL - North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham is interested in renovations that would modernize the Smith Center and provide more "revenue drivers," he said during an interview on Saturday.

The UNC men's basketball team is in 28th season playing at the Smith Center, which opened in 1986. Improvements have been made over the years - a video ribbon board debuted this season, and in recent years the sound and lighting systems were replaced - but the basic interior of the building has largely remained unchanged.

Cunningham said he is interested in adding luxury suites to the Smith Center, which was built before such amenities became commonplace in indoor sports arenas.

"We have suites and club seats in football (at Kenan Stadium) that work," Cunningham said. "But we have an iconic structure here. You have to be very careful on how you do that. I think we want to make sure that the fans get the experience they expect when they come to a premier place."

Cunningham said he envisions a renovated Smith Center would include "all the stuff that you would expect." That could include luxury suites, a modernized concourse and new concession stands and bathrooms.

"We want a place that's competitive for the team, number one," Cunningham said. "And then a place that accommodates the interest and the needs of the fans."

Cunningham said there have been "no serious discussions" about when the renovations might begin or what they might include. Those discussions would begin after the basketball season ends, he said. He acknowledged the need to modernize a building that lacks some of the amenities that have become standard in newer arenas.

UNC over the years has revamped Kenan Stadium, with the most recent changes coming in 2011. That's when the university opened the Blue Zone, which features club seating and 20 luxury suites.

Among all of UNC's facilities Cunningham said the one in the direst need of improvement is Fetzer Field, which is home to the men's and women's soccer, lacrosse and track teams.

"The one that needs the most help right now is Fetzer," Cunningham said. "And I think after that it'd be the Smith Center."

- Andrew Carter


Anonymous said...

I'm sure Dick Spangler and Bill Friday will be on campus to shut this spending down one day this week.

Anonymous said...

I say forget suites. This arena is for basketball purists. It could benefit from later bathrooms.

Anonymous said...

Luxury suites? But of course, College Basketball isn't about "revenue," is it?

Buckshot Jenkins said...

The major renovation that needs to take place is to push the old people back a few rows and allow the kids to sit around the court. That place can be so quiet that home court advantage is lost.

Anonymous said...

I'm a senior alumnus who fondly remembers when Carolina seemed to try harder to be
the University of the people. Now, to entice or honor people who should be satisfied, as fans and Tar Heels, with good seats, we feel the need to provide them with an elevated, publicly-grandiose platform from which to see and be seen, separate from the ordinary...people.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:03, You hit the nail on the head. Almost sounds like you're pointing your finger towards our own 1%'er, Erskine Bowles.
UNC has ruined Kenan (no character after closing in the stadium, 30,000 empty seats, Elon on the schedule, etc) let's see if they can do the same to the Dean Dome.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Buckshot. Relocate the big spenders to the luxury boxes and put student risers completely around the court.

Disagree with the comment about Kenan. Love the new look. Also about 95% of D-1 teams play FCS teams at the start of the season.

Al Searsa said...

If it gets done the "big spenders" will have to pay for it. That being the case, they can sit any darn place they please.
If it were not for the "big spenders", aka "blue hairs", "old people", etc, you'd be watching basketball in Carmichael Arena. They and the corporations they represent built you a modern arena; and, they are ones that maintain the place. And, if it gets updated they'll be the ones that update it. Instead of 'itching you should be saying thanks.

Anonymous said...

Add a lil' more wine and cheese to the sixth-best arena in the ACC.

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