UAB was granted approval to explore possible renovations and upgrades to Bartow Arena. The arena was built in 1988, 35 years ago. It's home to men's and women's basketball and volleyball teams. The project could potentially cost $20 million.
Shane Childress said Bartow Arena is like a home away from home, because he went to every home game for four years while his daughter played on the basketball team. He said it's about time for the arena to see some upgrades.
"We compared all the arenas, because we went all over the country, we were probably in the middle," said Childress.
The project is a four phase project. Next is the design and architect phase, then the university would need to secure funding. If approved, fans could see renovations to the main entrance and concourse of Bartow Arena, plus suites, and premium seating.
"Improve the entryway, pull the front doors farther out and create a grand entrance for our fans. In doing that, we would widen the concourse," explained Athletic Director Mark Ingram. "A lot of the other universities in the AAC either have new arenas or or have renovated their arena recently. We want to make sure that we are on equal footing with them. That means in recruiting, and on the court, and winning championships. If you're not getting better you're getting worse, and we don't want to do that."
The plan as it is right now, would also includes a new scoreboard, ribbon board, and even updates to the restrooms.
"It's really about taking the 35 years of popcorn grease and soda stains off the floor, adding some polish and improving the lighting, and making it a more attractive home," said Ingram.
Ingram said $20 million is an estimate of how much the renovations could cost. Ingram explained the cost could fluctuate depending on the cost of material, and labor. The arena is the second most visited building on campus, after the hospital.
"We feel good about that estimate, but that's not a definite number. We feel like that's the target for today, and that number could go down hopefully based on the price of goods, material labor," said Ingram.
University leaders hope the the renovations could also open up the opportunity for outside event revenue.
"We would like to take the opportunity in the summer to host concerts, and that would generate ancillary income, there's a lot of opportunity by doing this beyond UAB athletics," said Ingram.
"If you bring a recruit in and walk through the door, they are gonna decide, 'Does this university care about my sport?' The upgrades we are talking about to Bartow Arena and the practice facility will do that."
Ingram said the project is contingent on funding. Construction to the arena would also happen between seasons. The Blazers join the AAC on July 1st.