PROVO — After much speculation and anticipation, BYU delivered in a big way Tuesday, announcing three prominent upgrades to the Marriott Center that coaches and administrators believe will greatly enhance the school’s basketball programs.
The upgrades include renovating the lower bowl seating, the installation of new state-of-the-art video boards and the building of a new 38,000-square-foot annex that will house a basketball practice facility and associated services.
“This is an exciting day for BYU basketball. Both our men’s and women’s teams have been very successful, and this new facility will certainly enhance both programs,” said Tom Holmoe, BYU’s director of athletics. “We would like to express our appreciation to the BYU administration, the board of trustees and the many donors who have made this project a reality.”
Marriott Center annex
Taking center stage among the three upgrades is undoubtedly the building of the new annex that will connect to the east end of the Marriott Center, replacing the road that currently runs between the arena and the BYU Broadcasting Building.
The annex will include a replica of the Marriott Center floor, a strength and conditioning center, a training room with hydrotherapy, offices and meeting rooms and a basketball hall of honor. Construction of the annex is scheduled to get underway in the summer of 2015 and is anticipated to reach completion just prior to the 2016-17 basketball season.
The building of the privately funded annex is an effort to greatly enhance the student-athlete experience, according to BYU men's basketball coach Dave Rose, along with keeping up-to-date with some of the top programs nationally.
"This facility is a major commitment to our basketball program," Rose, who not coincidentally signed a new five-year extension just a day before Tuesday's announcements, said. "This is the new way. This is a world-class building that will have everything the student-athlete needs to allow him to develop, not only his athletic improvement, but his academics."
When posed the question of how Rose's new contract related to the building of the annex and other upgrades, BYU Senior Associate Athletic Director Brian Santiago said, "They're tied together. We wanted to make a loud statement of our commitment to excellance for our basketball programs and how committed we are to staying nationally relevant and chase our dreams of a national championship."
Coaches and administrators also believe the new facilities will work to enhance the player recruiting efforts for both the men's and women's programs.
"It's a topic of discussion with every player that we recruit," Rose said. "They want to know how they will be developed and how they can reach their full potential. I haven't been able to talk about it much, but there are some recruits that are expecting this to happen.
“This program has always had a focus on the players," Rose added. "This is a player-driven program. We believe that our system is put together so players can come in and reach their full individual potential. This is a huge part of that process — a place where they can have access and continue to improve their game and to help improve our team.”
Lower bowl seating
The plan for the lower bowl is to install the same blue, cushioned seats currently found on the north side of the arena to cover the entire lower bowl. When the renovation is completed, the Marriott Center will hold 19,000, a decrease of approximately 1,900 seats from the current capacity of 20,900.
The student section will remain on the west side of the arena and all the approximated 8,000 renovated lower bowl seats will offer more leg space for attending fans and students.
"We're going to accommodate our students," Santiago said. "We feel we have one of the greatest student sections out there in all of college basketball we're committed to the students at BYU that have been so supportive, and we will be able to accomodate them."
The addition of the new lower bowl seats will commence around May 1 and should reach completion by the end of the summer. The reconfiguration of rows and seats will necessitate reseating all basketball season-ticket holders.
“Since its introduction in 2012, we’ve had great success with the online seating process that allows our fans to select their own seats in a real-time 3D environment,” said BYU ticket manager Clark Livsey. “Using this seat-selection system, fans can preview seat availability, see a simulated view from each seat and purchase their seats online.”
BYU will replace the current vido and scoreboard walls with LED video boards that will enhance the basketball experience for fans, along with enhancing the other events held at the Marriott Center.
BYU plans to install four new LED boards that are approximately 24 feet wide by 18 feet high and face in all four directions. There will also be two additional underbelly boards on the north and south sides that are visible from the press area and the lower rows. The smaller boards will roughly be 13 feet wide and 7.5 feet high.
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