Renovation project for basketball locker rooms underway

Published: Jan. 21, 2017 at 7:38 PM EST
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Tennessee head coaches Rick Barnes and Holly Warlick joined chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek and vice chancellor and director of athletics Dave Hart on Saturday for an official groundbreaking ceremony for new men's and women's basketball locker rooms at Thompson-Boling Arena.

"I am very excited that the renovation project for the Tennessee basketball locker room area is under way," Warlick said. "When this expansion is complete, both of our teams will have brand-new dressing rooms for players and coaches, film rooms and a full-service sports medicine area. When you add this upgrade to an arena that is one of the finest on-campus venues in the nation, we have the complete package."

The renovations have been made possible through UTAD's Campaign for Comprehensive Excellence.

"We are very fortunate in that our arena and basketball practice facility are among the nation's finest," Hart said. "The Campaign for Comprehensive Excellence had a clear focus and priority on enhancing student-athletes' facilities related to where they live, train, eat, practice, receive academic support and compete.

"The men's and women's basketball locker rooms had become very antiquated. This project will move us in line with those we compete against and is consistent with our mission as a student-athlete centered athletics program."

Since 2006, the athletics department has undergone several phases of construction to benefit Tennessee basketball student-athletes, coaches and fans. Updates have included the construction of Pratt Pavilion and expansive renovations to Thompson-Boling Arena, including new coaches' offices. These investments--totaling more than $40 million--have made Thompson-Boling Arena the premier on-campus venue in the nation.

"If you look at how much the University of Tennessee has invested in its basketball facilities over the past few years, you can't help but be impressed," Barnes said. "I'm grateful to Larry Pratt and all our donors, our administration and our fans, because they're all instrumental in making enhancement projects like this possible. When these renovations are complete, there's no question our basketball facilities will be as good as any school in the country."

This latest round of renovations, scheduled to begin in May, will begin an extensive facelift to the existing men's and women's basketball locker-room space along the arena's north corridor on event level. Both locker rooms will be enlarged and modernized with state-of-the-art technological and aesthetic enhancements. In addition, an expanded and enhanced athletic training facility, featuring world-class hydrotherapy systems, will be completed for use by both basketball programs.

"I can't say enough about how much of a difference this project is going to make in terms of providing a large, modern and functional home-away-from-home for our current Lady Vols and Vols," Warlick said. "It also strongly demonstrates to prospective student-athletes the commitment that the University of Tennessee makes to its basketball programs. Believe me, that speaks volumes to recruits and their families."

The renovations of the men's and women's basketball locker rooms have a total project cost of $5 million, funded entirely through private gifts. Lead donor Larry Pratt's commitment of $2 million during the recent Campaign for Comprehensive Excellence--coupled with other leadership gifts--have enabled UT to fund this project.

This is not Pratt's first leadership gift. In 2006, he made the lead gift for the state-of-the-art Pratt Pavilion practice facility. And in the 1990s, he honored his father, Floyd, by creating an endowed scholarship in his name as a member of the Nathan Dougherty Society. A native of Athens, Tennessee, Pratt currently resides in McLean, Virginia. He graduated from the University of Tennessee's Haslam College of Business in 1973 and serves as chairman and CEO of First Savings Mortgage Corporation, the largest private mortgage banker in Washington D.C.

"The renovation of the locker rooms at Thompson-Boling Arena is another sign of the commitment by the University of Tennessee to compete for championships in basketball," Pratt said. "This investment will benefit our Vol and Lady Vol student-athletes and help Coaches Warlick and Barnes bring future Tennessee greats to Knoxville."

Architects for the renovations are from Studio Four Design, and the general contractor is Johnson & Galyon Construction--both of Knoxville.

Thompson-Boling Arena opened in the fall of 1987 and is now in its 30th year hosting on-campus events. During that time, the venue has welcomed and served more than 24 million patrons.

The University of Tennessee athletics department is one of fewer than 10 departments in the country that receives no funds from state subsidies or taxes.

TENNESSEE BASKETBALL FACILITY ENHANCEMENTS IN THE PAST DECADE

Prior to the 2007-08 season, UT added a basketball-only practice facility, Pratt Pavilion, which houses two full-size gymnasiums (one for each of the men's and women's basketball teams) as well as an athletic training room, weight room and film-study room.

Construction of Pratt Pavilion also marked the beginning of the "first phase" of renovations to Thompson-Boling Arena. This $19 million phase included the addition of 32 luxury suites located in the north balcony, a loge area just below the suites that includes 166 side court seats, new seats for the entire arena, a $3 million center-hung scoreboard and concourse refurbishments, such as graphics and other amenities.

In the "second phase" of Thompson-Boling Arena renovations, the athletics department overhauled the men's and women's basketball offices during the 2010-11 campaign, creating a new and impressive "front door" for both programs.

New to Thompson-Boling Arena for the 2013-14 season was a 360-degree LED ribbon board that runs along the bottom of the upper deck.

In March of 2014, Thompson-Boling Arena became the third college basketball arena to install an LED lighting system, which features fixtures that are smaller, brighter, and up to 85 percent more efficient than conventional arena metal halide lights. The system--developed and manufactured by Oak Ridge-based LED North America at the Tech 20/20 incubator facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee--incorporates Oak Ridge National Laboratory technology and was installed by Knoxville-based Bandit Lites.

Most recently, the weight room in Pratt Pavilion was renovated and expanded to 4,350 square feet in the summer of 2016. Additions include a full-court-length stretch of synthetic turf, a custom rubber floor, a 40-foot, steel-reinforced throwing wall, six Keiser Functional Trainers, four TRUEStretch Cages, three custom, 10-foot Power Lift pulley units (ideal for taller student-athletes), seven sets of 90-pound PowerBlocks and a zoned, high-powered stereo system.