SBJ/December 17-23, 2012/Facilities

Original architect joins in study for renovation at UNLV arena

Don Muret
One of the original architects for Thomas & Mack Center has been selected by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to study renovations to the arena.

Don Dethlefs, a principal with Sink Combs Dethlefs, was a project consultant for the 18,500-seat arena, which opened in 1983 for
the Runnin’ Rebels men’s basketball team and the National Finals Rodeo. While working on the arena in the early ’80s, before architects routinely used computers to develop blueprints, Dethlefs drew the seating bowl by hand.

Fast forward 30 years. To deliver the study on potential upgrades, Sink Combs Dethlefs has teamed with Klai Juba, a local firm specializing in gaming resorts, and Woods Bagot, whose global director of sports, Dan Meis, is designer of a proposed $800 million stadium on the UNLV campus.

Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
The study will develop a comprehensive plan for arena upgrades, including new premium-seat options, in addition to bringing the facility’s infrastructure up to date to extend its life for the next 20 to 30 years, Dethlefs said.

“We will put all of that on the table … a menu of options to see what they can do as well as fix what systems are aging,” he said. “It will provide a segue into the actual improvements. That is the ultimate goal.”

A renovation study will look at new premium seat options and infrastructure upgrades at the nearly 30-year-old Thomas & Mack Center.
Photo by: NBAE / GETTY IMAGES
UNLV officials could not comment on the selection or the project until contracts are signed, which should occur in January, said Bob Dincecco, the school’s assistant director of design, planning and construction.

Sink Combs Dethlefs and Klai Juba worked together to design three arenas connected to Las Vegas casinos, but this will be the first time Dethlefs has worked with Meis on a sports project. Both have experience designing facilities at the big league level.

The study should be done by February, said Dethlefs, who last week traveled from his Denver office to Las Vegas to attend the rodeo with his design partners. To date, there is no financing for proposed renovations, he said.

> G QUE: Georgetown University has signed a multiyear deal with Qcue to dynamically price tickets for men’s basketball games at Verizon Center.

The Hoyas play home games off campus at the NBA arena. Over the past 15 years, the school has averaged about 10,000 in attendance, filling roughly half the 20,500-seat arena, according to NCAA data sourced by hoyabasketball.com, an independent website not affiliated with the university.

Working with Qcue, a technology vendor that has deals with several major league teams, Georgetown can adjust ticket prices throughout the season to sell more tickets and generate additional revenue, said Dan O’Neil, the school’s associate athletic director for external affairs.

Georgetown is Qcue’s second college client. Earlier this year, the vendor signed with the University of California to dynamically price tickets for football games at Memorial Stadium and basketball games at Haas Pavilion.

In Tampa, the University of South Florida uses Digonex for dynamic pricing of tickets for home football games at Raymond James Stadium and basketball games at the newly renovated Sun Dome. The school has seen modest gains in revenue since beginning to use dynamic pricing about halfway through the 2011 football season, said Ayo Taylor-Dixon, South Florida’s associate athletic director of marketing and revenue development.

> MY KENTUCKY HOME: The Rupp Arena Arts and Entertainment District Task Force has hired the team of Legends Premium Sales, CSL International, HKS World Events and Live Nation to develop a funding model for renovating Rupp Arena. The group of consultants will spend the next 10 to 12 months studying a variety of revenue sources to pay for $110 million to $140 million in upgrades to the 36-year-old facility.
 
With no financing in place, the process for selecting a designer will be pushed into early 2014, according to a task force timeline.

> STICKING POINT: Football season-ticket holders had a special way of reminding Cal-Berkeley officials of the importance of renovating Memorial Stadium, said Sandy Barbour, the school’s athletic director.

At the Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, Barbour presented a case study for financing the $321 million renovation of the 89-year-old stadium. The images she displayed included broken bench seats in desperate need of repair.

“[Former coach] Jeff Tedford and I got weekly envelopes with splinters in them,” Barbour said. “It was dangerous.”

Memorial Stadium reopened Sept. 1 after a 21-month construction. One new feature: aluminum benches.

Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @breakground.



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