Bringing the 'wow' factor
UB finishes first phase of $105,000 project with Arena redesign
Athletic Director Danny White said he is ready to “bring the wow factor” back to Alumni Arena.
When White arrived in Buffalo in 2012, he expressed interest in making changes to the multi-purpose venue that hosts many of UB’s Division-I athletic teams – which has received little cosmetic upgrades since its inception in 1982.
The first part of the program’s redesign initiative for Alumni Arena – a mural of UB athletes in their respective blue and white uniforms – is now complete. The mural stretches from the concourse to the end of the hallway. The total renovations, which will include a digital, interactive Hall of Fame, cost $105,000, according to White.
"It’s a growing trend in college athletics,” White said of the upgrade. “With the technology now, some of these graphic design firms can make a facility like Alumni Arena that is 30 years old and create some ‘wow’ factor. We wanted an opportunity to showcase our student-athletes in all sports for something that’s really important to us. The blue and white makes it a more welcoming environment for our fans.”
Further plans to makeover the building includes the “Dr. and Mrs. Edmond J. Gicewicz Family UB Athletics Hall of Fame,” an interactive Hall of Fame. The new Hall of Fame will have a 70-inch touch-screen LED television. The television will organize inductees by sport, decade, year or name.
Although an official completion date is not set, the Hall of Fame will be finished by the beginning of the fall 2015 semester, White said.
Numerous donors, who are part of the Shareholder Society, funded the $105,000 project. The Society is made up of privately funded contributors that work directly with UB Athletics for projects such as this. No funding came from the state or from the athletic department.
White eventually plans to expand on the profiles of the inductees of the Hall, making it more like “the one in Canton,” the home of the professional Football Hall of Fame.
“We’re all about honoring our past while building our future,” White said. “We want to have a competitive culture. We have to let the students know about our competitive past and where we’ve been. We wanted it done a little earlier this year. But we wanted to make sure it was done right.”
There will be no major renovations done to Alumni Arena once the Hall of Fame project is completed, according to White.
White said the redesign is beneficial to the Athletic program as well as the arena, as the concourse is the first place recruits will go to on campus. He believes it will make an impactful first impression.
White added the new graphics may boost the interest of the student section on game day.
“We’ve tried to focus on the student body from a game-day marketing standpoint,” White said. “I’m a firm believer that the game-day experience starts and stops with the student section. We need a vibrant, electric student atmosphere.”
Part of creating that atmosphere is hosting another blackout game on Friday at Alumni Arena when the men’s basketball team takes on Kent State. The game will be aired on ESPNU to 75 million households.
“It’s like the Baylor game this past fall,” White said. “It gets us national exposure.”
The Sept. 12 blackout game between the Bulls and Baylor, which aired on ESPN, had the highest attendance rate all season.
ESPN can pick one Saturday game a year for the conference team to play on a national scale, but because of the basketball team’s success, the network moved the game from Saturday to Friday night at 10 p.m.
The first 1,000 fans will receive a free True Blue tuxedo T-shirt. UB Athletics will also give away a pair of Beats by Dr. Dre headphones and one student who checks in to the game with the UB rewards app will win the chance to participate in the $10,000 series shootout. If the randomly selected student makes the shot at halftime, then they will win $10,000.
Prior to the game, there will be a student tailgate in LaSalle parking lot from 8- 9:30 p.m. under heated tents.