McKenzie Arena lower-level getting a makeover - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

McKenzie Arena lower-level getting a makeover

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- The Roundhouse is rocking this summer, but not because of a raucous crowd.

Hard hats and earplugs would be recommended for those walking across the McKenzie Arena floor, though the Mocs believe the echoes are ringing with progress.

"Cranes and jackhammers on a university campus are a good thing," said new Lady Mocs' head coach Jim Foster, who was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame last week. "I'm seeing some cranes and I'm hearing some jackhammers, so I know we're venturing forward into the future."

A $1.8 million reseating process started last week and will continue until September. It will result in a complete overhaul for seating in the lower level.

"It will be fresh and it will be clean," new athletic director David Blackburn said of the project, which will affect more than 2,000 seats. "It will be a noticeable difference when you walk in, and certainly even more noticeable as you sit there.

"Obviously it's in the lower part of the arena, which is where the majority of people are sitting, so it made the most sense to take care of that."

A total of 880 new padded seats will be added, split evenly on each side of center court, and the area of seating behind the home basket where the pep band usually sits will now be converted to benches.

It's the first major face-lift in quite some time for the 30-year-old venue, which has held up considerably well to the wear.

"We talk about the age of the arena, but what a great venue it's been and how much has happened here in the past," Blackburn said. "Not just athletically, but it's used for concerts, shows and what have you. It's something we're proud of, and each year we hope to make it better."

Blackburn knows any future improvements to McKenzie hinge greatly upon the success of the product on its floor.

Of course, it just so happens that is also going through a makeover.

With the hires of Foster and new men's basketball coach Will Wade, there's no better time to refresh The Roundhouse and further the rebranding of UTC basketball.

"Hopefully we can recruit and compete and help bring more people in here," Blackburn said. "Having new coaches on both the men's and women's side, it's the perfect time for this fresh start and fresh energy.

"Hopefully we can sell that and get people to show up and support our team."

The planned view from court level after the lower-level seating is replaced at McKenzie Arena. The planned view from court level after the lower-level seating is replaced at McKenzie Arena.
The planned view from the top of the arena after the lower-level seating is replaced at McKenzie. The planned view from the top of the arena after the lower-level seating is replaced at McKenzie.
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