SBD/August 21, 2014/Facilities

UNC Keeps Smith Center Renovations On Hold, Citing Uncertainty Of NCAA Landscape

Carolina continues to weigh whether it will renovate or replace the Smith Center
The Univ. of North Carolina "still has interest in renovating the Smith Center or building a new arena to replace it," but UNC AD Bubba Cunningham this week said those plans “have been pretty much on the back burner for 12 months,” according to Andrew Carter of the Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER. Cunningham has publicly "expressed a desire to renovate" the Smith Center, which opened in '86, and "add premium features -- like luxury suites -- that could generate more revenue." But the "uncertainty of the college sports landscape ... as well as budget concerns have decreased the likelihood that UNC develops a formal plan for the Smith Center, or its replacement, any time soon." Cunningham: “We don’t know about the long term implications of the O’Bannon ruling. We don’t know where the autonomy group is going to take the governance structure. So I think now’s the time to be pretty cautious in what we’re going to do next.” Carter notes renovations to the Smith Center would "likely cost tens of millions of dollars, and a new arena could cost hundreds of millions." It is "unclear how any project would be funded." But Cunningham said that any plan to renovate or build a new arena "would likely be tied to a yet-to-be-formalized broader university-wide fundraising campaign." Cunningham said of whether the school would prefer to renovate the Smith Center or build a new arena, "It’s like remodeling your house. You can enhance it. There’s plenty of things you can do. Some will argue a need to enhance it a lot; others will say you don’t need to change it -- it’s terrific. And other people will say, boy, if you’re going to invest this significant amount of money you should probably bite the bullet and really build new" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 8/21).
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