McKenzie Arena work awaits state approval

McKenzie Arena work awaits state approval

March 18th, 2012 by John Frierson in Sports - College

Athletic director Rick Hart said the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is hoping to have McKenzie Arena renovated in time for next basketball season. But plans are being made in case that doesn't happen.

The proposed renovations, which include replacing the lower-level seating and installing a curtain system for the upper deck, are in a holding pattern. UTC is awaiting approval from the State Building Commission, which Hart said might not come before June.

"There's a tentative timeline, but it's still pending multiple approvals and steps we've got to go through," Hart said. "We have kind of two plans we're working on, maybe two and a half."

Along with getting all of the necessary approvals and putting the project up for bid, UTC has to find a time when the work can be done. McKenzie Arena hosts non-sporting events throughout the year, so just because it is the offseason for the basketball teams doesn't mean there are long stretches when the facility isn't in use.

"It's all challenging and we've got to hit each deadline, but we'll have to make sure the building can be cleared for a six- to eight-week period to do it all," Hart said.

In late April the arena will host a Rick Ross concert, and in early May the WWE will be in town. In the summer, UTC will be hosting multiple basketball camps.

Hart said one option will be doing half of the seat installation this year and the other half next year.

"That creates some logistical issues that we would have work through," he said, such as season-ticket sales for the reconfigured lower level. "Nothing we can't do, but stuff that has to be thought about and executed. The advantage would be now you're only talking about a three- to four-week window for installation this year and next year, which would be manageable."

Another option would be to wait and do the installation next year, blocking off the time needed now so the arena is ready and waiting in 2013.

"We're still pushing for this offseason and everybody's trying to get that done," Hart said. "We're moving forward with other aspects of the planning process so that when the everything's approved we're down the road a little bit."