Sports

UNC Officials Ponder Renovations, Replacing Arena

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(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Officials at the University of North Carolina are talking about making renovations to the Dean E. Smith Center, and the school is also looking at building a new men’s basketball arena.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reports (http://bit.ly/18jdXOP) UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham said a new arena is part of the discussion. He says both ideas have to be looked at.

“And I think as just part of your due diligence you need to look at renovation of existing facilities or even dreaming about a new facility and what that would bring,” Cunningham said.

UNC has shared the most significant discussions, Cunningham said, with Kansas City-based 360 Architecture, a firm whose portfolio includes more than a dozen sports arenas and stadiums.

According to Cunningham, the discussions have been preliminary in nature, and the first step is for UNC to receive conceptual designs before determining economic feasibility.

If the Smith Center is renovated, it would involve adding what Cunningham describes as “revenue generators,” most likely luxury suites, club seating, or both.

The Smith Center opened in 1986, before luxury suites became standard in indoor arenas.

Cunningham said he has sought advice from other athletic directors who have led renovation projects, and said he will soon visit the University of Michigan, which recently overhauled the Crisler Center, the home of Michigan’s men’s basketball team since 1967.

The timetable for renovations or new construction at UNC is some time off, but Cunningham said he’d like to talk with the campus and with boosters by the spring.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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