Arizona Basketball was the recipient of more good news Monday afternoon as Director of Athletics Greg Byrne announced plans for a McKale Center renovation that would reach the $30M dollar mark by the time of completion.
The renovations, which plan to be completely sponsored by donors, were spearheaded by a few familiar faces in the form of a $6M leadership gift from Tucson residents Cole and Jeannie Davis. Although not alumni of the University of Arizona, the Davis family was same pair responsible for the initial leadership gift in the construction of the Richard Jefferson Gymnasium, the strength and conditioning center, and for the most recent hallway and locker room renovations to the McKale Center. Their contribution to the Arizona Athletics program has now eclipsed the $10M dollar mark.
When asked for the reasoning behind their donations, Cole Davis announced, “During our initial introductions, Jeannie and I were so impressed with Sean Miller and his vision for where Arizona basketball was headed. Now, four years later, we’ve seen the results of that vision and we’re excited to be supporting a program that can compete for championships. It’s important for men’s basketball to be as competitive as possible for the overall health of the athletics department. Our hope is that by helping to strengthen our basketball programs, we can have a positive impact on all student-athletes at Arizona, which in turn, will help them not only have a great experience while in school, but will prepare them to become leaders once their playing days are over.”
In response, both Men’s Basketball Head Coach Sean Miller and Women’s Basketball Head Coach Niya Butts expressed their generosity towards the Davis duo. “We are so grateful to the Davis family for their support of men’s basketball at Arizona,” Miller stated. “Their generosity is one of the main reasons for the growth we’ve seen in our program over the last few seasons. They have helped us address many of the needs we identified at the start of our tenure and their kindness has assisted us in creating a foundation for future success.”
Butts then added, “I would like to represent women’s basketball in thanking the Davis family for this generous gift,” said head coach Niya Butts. “We’re working every day to move our program in the right direction and the support the Davises have provided gives us an opportunity to attract some of the top prospective student-athletes to the Pac-12 and from around the country. They are an asset to our athletic department and should be celebrated for all they have done for our University, the staff and the student-athletes.”
As for the specifics of the renovations, the initial phase is to update the overhead scoreboard and install a state-of-the-art, high-definition model. This phase is planned to complete within the next month. The new edition would be approximately 25% larger than the current scoreboard, would feature four 12’x19’ Panasonic Video boards, and be complete with two LED rings.
Larger plans include upgraded seating, hand rails, enhanced lighting and a new playing floor. In addition, conceptual designs have been generated to address amenities and upgrades that are likely to include men’s and women’s locker rooms, concessions and restrooms. These upgrades are due to begin in May of 2014, pending Arizona Board of Regents approval.
Moving forward, this will undoubtedly enhance an already stellar recruiting tool for Arizona Basketball. The McKale Center is well known in terms of being a nightmare for opponents as well as consistently providing players a packed house to play in front of. Not only will the renovations offer fans a more aesthetically pleasing game day experience, but also it keeps Arizona equal or higher footing in the arms race that is college basketball recruiting.
Given how well Sean Miller has recruited to this point, the future of Arizona Basketball is both fantastic, and scary, to think of.