Wednesday May 10, 2017

This is Our Home

By Eric F. Spina

Since I have arrived at UD, people have been asking me whether we will build a new Arena. My response? As fans chant at Flyer games, "This is our house!"  Indeed, the University of Dayton Arena is — and will continue to be — our home.

It's where the Flyer Faithful, who bleed red and blue, have experienced exhilarating victories, heartbreaking losses — and a town-gown bond that's the envy of Division I programs around the country. Since the University of Dayton Arena opened in 1969, the Dayton Flyers have consistently ranked in the top 35 in men's basketball attendance. In 2016, our women's team ranked in the top 40 in attendance.

It's where the Road to the Final Four begins. Our beloved Arena, host of 117 (and counting) NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament games, has been the site of 34 more games than any other tournament host, making it the most popular venue in the land.

Without exaggeration, the University of Dayton Arena is simply one of the greatest college basketball venues, with fiercely loyal and louder-than-loud fans. In fact, they're "LOWD," a new word coined by the rowdy Red Scare student section to describe the deafening atmosphere when the Flyers go on a run. I love what that word represents — our hopes and dreams — and that it is uniquely ours.

That's why the Arena is so special to the University community for far more than basketball. Last weekend, I shook the hands of more than 2,000 newly minted UD graduates, ready to make their mark in the world. With families and friends, the arena reverberated with joy and a sense of accomplishment. It's quite an amazing run: In all, the Arena has hosted commencement ceremonies for approximately 110,000 UD students throughout the decades.

Last month, in a darkened Arena, I felt the hopes and dreams of our campus community soar in an energetic, joyful celebration I will always cherish. The presidential installation ceremony touched me deeply because it reflected so powerfully and authentically who we are as a Catholic, Marianist university and because it was open to and attended by members of the greater Dayton community.

Each academic year, we transform the Arena into a liturgical space for thousands at special Masses celebrating the arrival of new students and honoring the departure of the senior graduating class.

It is a transformational space for us, our students and our community. That's why we've chosen to boldly transform the University of Dayton Arena into a state-of-the-art facility that will allow our hopes and dreams to soar for another half century.

This is the largest renovation project we've ever undertaken, but we're buoyed by the support of alumni and friends and the feedback from season ticketholders, fans, trustees, industry leaders and experts as we begin the three-year, $72 million transformation of this signature building on the Great Miami River. We've received several generous multi-million-dollar gifts to launch the project and will continue to seek additional private support. Funding for the project will come from gifts, corporate sponsorships, external private and business partnerships, ticket revenue and general University support.

Our fans, students and families will see immediate enhancements next season with the addition of upgraded courtside seating, new seats in the lower Arena, a new four-sided, center-hung video board, LED ribbon boards on the fascia of Spectrum Flight Deck and suites, and improved WiFi.

We'll also spend the summer working on some of the building's long-overdue infrastructure issues that are necessary to extend its life, such as dewatering pumps and a new audio system.

Future phases will include new upper-level seats, modern concourses, air conditioning, a sleek exterior look, and upgrades that touch every part of the building from restrooms and concession stands to the ticket office and team store. For photos, renderings and details, visit www.transform.UDArena.com.

We are transforming the Arena, not building a new one, because this is our house — our home for generations to come. 

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