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Volume 23 No. 13
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Cavaliers raise the excitement level with arena upgrades

Visitors are greeted by an aluminum curtain wall that can be illuminated with 1,500 color combinations.
Photo: Cleveland Cavaliers
Visitors are greeted by an aluminum curtain wall that can be illuminated with 1,500 color combinations.
Photo: Cleveland Cavaliers
Visitors are greeted by an aluminum curtain wall that can be illuminated with 1,500 color combinations.
Photo: Cleveland Cavaliers

After nearly 26 years and three name changes, Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, the downtown Cleveland home of the Cavaliers, opens the NBA season with a $185 million renovation transforming the facility originally known as Gund Arena into a modernized showplace.

 

Along with a name change this year to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse from Quicken Loans Arena, the arena now boasts signature elements highlighted by a 77,110-square-foot aluminum curtain wall that can be illuminated with 1,500 color combinations and a glass-walled atrium adding 42,530 square feet of space to the building.

Art also plays a part in the arena’s wayfinding system.
Photo: Cleveland Cavaliers
Art also plays a part in the arena’s wayfinding system.
Photo: Cleveland Cavaliers
Art also plays a part in the arena’s wayfinding system.
Photo: Cleveland Cavaliers

Len Komoroski, CEO of the Cavaliers and Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, called the aluminum curtain stunning. “The beauty of it is that at night we will be able to project different colors, and it enables us to change the personality of the building based on the event,” he said.

Another distinctive element is the “power portal,” an immersive fan entryway that connects the atrium to the arena concourse and features 2,200 square feet of LED panels and surround-sound technology. 

“We are a sports and entertainment venue and when you approach it, there should be a sense of excitement as part of the experience,” Komoroski said. “We can let that happen as fans make their way to the field house. Before you even step into the concourse, already there has been an amazing experience.” 

Of the $185 million renovation cost, the Cavaliers paid $115 million and $70 million came from public funding.

A mural by artist Shepard Fairey, known for his Barack Obama “Hope” poster.
Photo: Cleveland Cavaliers
A mural by artist Shepard Fairey, known for his Barack Obama “Hope” poster.
Photo: Cleveland Cavaliers
A mural by artist Shepard Fairey, known for his Barack Obama “Hope” poster.
Photo: Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs, along with construction manager Whiting-Turner and architectural firms Gensler and Rossetti, completed the overhaul in 20 months. The building stayed open for the NBA season, but closed the past two summers in order to finish the project on time. The project reduced the seating capacity to 19,432 from 20,562. 

Nearly every area of the building was touched, including concessions, floors, ceilings, restrooms and merchandise stores. Sixty-two suites were renovated. New concession areas offer food “neighborhoods” that were sorely missing from the old space. Before this year, fans would buy their food and eat it standing in a crowded concourse or at their seats.

“There were no real gathering spaces,” Komoroski said. “Sub-optimal is a way to put it.”

Ohio native Daniel Arsham produced this installation for the administrative office entry wall.
Photo: Cleveland Cavaliers
Ohio native Daniel Arsham produced this installation for the administrative office entry wall.
Photo: Cleveland Cavaliers
Ohio native Daniel Arsham produced this installation for the administrative office entry wall.
Photo: Cleveland Cavaliers

The exterior of the building has also received a facelift, highlighted by “the totem,” a double-sided outdoor video board that features stacked screens. A public art program includes more than 100 pieces of art from international, national and local artists.

Taken together, the changes have made the building nearly unrecognizable from the old facility.

“We think it’s the benchmark for innovations,” Komoroski said. “You could put up old shots on a wall and then put the new field house exterior up against it and people would have a hard time picking it out because they are so diametrically different. Walking into the building, every square inch has been redone.”

Editor’s note: This story is revised from the print edition.