Tom Smart, Deseret News
BYU fans as Brigham Young University and Saint Mary's play men's basketball Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, in Provo, Utah.
PROVO — BYU officials announced Friday plans to upgrade three areas of the Marriott Center, which will take place this spring and summer.
Among the improvements:
The lower-bowl bench seating on the north side of the arena will be replaced with chair seating.
Renovations to the men's and women's basketball locker rooms.
A new sound system.
"The Marriott Center is a central part of the BYU campus and has served the local community well since it opened in 1971," said administrative vice president Brian Evans. "Thanks to excellent maintenance over the years, the building is in remarkably good condition. The planned improvements are necessary to ensure it will remain a vital part of the campus for many years to come."
The most noticeable change comes in the new chair seating in the lower bowl. The original bench seats will be replaced with prime chair seats. When completed, the facility will hold 20,900, a decrease of approximately 1,800 seats from the original capacity of 22,700. The entire lower bowl will now be chair seating.
Construction is anticipated to begin May 1, with completion projected by late summer.
The renovations to the lower bowl present some challenges but also provide new opportunities for Cougar fans and BYU athletics. Beginning with the 2012-13 basketball season, the student section will move from the north side of the arena to the west side. The new student seating will include sections 13-17 in the lower bowl and corresponding sections above the concourse, providing the same number of available student seats.
The Marriott Center Ticket Office will work closely with season ticket holders and others affected by the seating changes to identify the best opportunities. Many new seating options will be available, including the new prime sideline seating on the north side of the arena.
"We did a lot of research to determine how to best restructure the seating," said BYU marketing director David Almodova. "There were many factors to consider, and we have come up with a plan that will best serve the needs of a wide variety of our constituents while continuing the great game-day experience at the Marriott Center."
In response to the new seating options, ticket prices for men's basketball have been restructured for the 2012-13 season. The new pricing structure offers a wide variety of options to better suit the needs of BYU fans. In fact, approximately 75 percent of the seats in the arena have been reduced in price.
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"We studied many other stadiums and schools to find best practices that would benefit our fans," said BYU ticket manager Clark Livsey. "We've more than doubled the number of pricing options for basketball and created some additional family-friendly pricing around the arena."
To further enhance the ticket purchasing process BYU has partnered with Ballena Technologies to provide online seat selection in a real-time 3D environment. Using the new seat-selection system, fans can preview individual seat availability and make selections online. The enhanced ticketing system is scheduled to launch in June 2012, just in time for basketball season ticket renewals.