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UA to Renovate the JAR

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MaxZIP    20

Cool. Starting with the the lobby is not a good plan. Get rid of the damn track and the high school bleachers. Nothing screams division 3 like the current seating configuration. Also, do not copy what Can't did to their pile of cap facility by renovating the lobby and adding a secluded, worthless, and empty vip area that is completely closed to the game atmosphere. They have to pipe sound in to the suite. Do all of these guys read the same play book for failure?

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ZachTheZip    362

It's not too late to make a Christmas wishlist, is it?

  1. All new seating. The stands themselves have to go, with the blue chairs and bleachers attached to them. The new seats should be closer to the court up top, leaving a small walkway instead of the track and a concourse behind the seats with tunnels that come out. You no longer need the upper JAR areas for phys ed classes since the Info supposedly has facilities for that in the 2nd and 3rd floors of the press tower.
  2. A way for fans to get to the restrooms and concessions without having to go up and then back down sets of stairs.
  3. A unified student section, with a dedicated way for students to get to it without having to mingle with the GA crowd. This should be the only section with bleacher seating.
  4. HD scoreboard (1080p led screen or better) and replace the stat boards with ribbon boards like the ones at the info.
  5. Replace the outdoor lighting around the top of the JAR. No more depressing orange globes. Put up some Xenon or LED lights that can be seen all the way from Canada.
  6. Do whatever it takes to install a bleeding-edge broadcast and streaming infrastructure while everything's torn apart.
  7. A raised playing surface that can be disassembled and removed for other events.
  8. A sound-proof booth for the band.

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Balsy    419

I doubt they would actually do the full renovation of the JAR at the price tag of $38 million. But if they do, I believe that's the last time I buy season tickets to anything at UA. I support the Zips, I love my Zips, but dumping money into the JAR (or at least that much money) is dumb...dumb...DUMB. Especially when they could just use that money as a down payment on a brand new arena.

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zippy5    608

I doubt they would actually do the full renovation of the JAR at the price tag of $38 million. But if they do, I believe that's the last time I buy season tickets to anything at UA. I support the Zips, I love my Zips, but dumping money into the JAR (or at least that much money) is dumb...dumb...DUMB. Especially when they could just use that money as a down payment on a brand new arena.

Down payment? You think they're paying this in cash?

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zippy5    608

The perfect analogy for $38 million into the JAR is the Jimmy John's delivery boy with the $3,000 in rims and tires on his $500 1997 Honda.

I would say it's like a 25 year old buying a 100K house to start out instead of a 250K home. They can only do what they can afford.

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Dave in Green    334

Interesting to see the story is based on an interview with Dr. Scarborough. Since the plan is to do improvements in stages, the only way they ever spend the full $38 million is if they totally give up on the idea of a new arena being built. It wouldn't make a lot of sense to spend $38 million on improvements if volleyball were going to be the biggest spectator event held there.

But the full $38 million renovation would mean a reduction in seating capacity as bleachers would be replaced by chair-back seating. Dropping capacity down to less than 5,000 when your biggest games are already selling more than that many tickets would be a clear sign that UA has no intention of raising the level of Zips basketball beyond where it is today. A nicely remodeled JAR would likely attract at least a few more fans, and reducing capacity makes no sense in that context.

Due diligence would require UA to compare the cost of a new arena to the $38 million for a total renovation. The projected $79 million for the proposed downtown arena would be a giant leap -- more than double the cost. But that $79 million was for a 9,000-seat arena to be used for a variety of regional events. The Zips don't need 9,000 seats. I'd like to know what the cost would be for a new arena with seating capacity similar to what the JAR is now or maybe a little more -- a modern arena with comfortable seating and good sight lines but no extravagant luxuries.

For example, Zips fans who attended the tournament in Charleston were impressed with the 5,100-seat TD Arena, which cost $51.5 million in 2014 dollars to construct. Would an all-new arena in the $50 million range make more longterm economic sense than a $38 million JAR renovation that reduced seating to less than 5,000? Someone at UA needs to crunch those numbers and share them with Dr. Scarborough.

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K92    1,005

I don't know why everyone has to be so negative. I'm sure it will be nice when it's finished.

tumblr_mdqrrrrgja1qafyy9o1_500.jpg

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Hilltopper    250

I would be for the renovation if it included the following;

An addition with a practice court.

Removing the walking track.

Removing all the roll out seating and replacing it with permanent concrete risers and stadium quality seats.

New restrooms and concession areas.

Space for events and gatherings. This could be part of the new practice facility.

A complete technology upgrade including anew scoreboard and TV studio.

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If they are going to change to all chair-backs (except the student section), they should probably change to all assigned seating in order to preserve the three-tier price structure they have. Upper reserved tickets would not be any different if they don't. Using assigned seating would allow the upper end sections (1, 3, 7 and 9) to be the lower-tier price while maintaining sections 2 and 8 for the mid-price.

I can picture lopping off the lobby end and completely rebuilding that to achieve some of the desired upgrades. Not sure how much sense that makes though vs building a new arena.

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Dave in Green    334

Here's a little hypothetical number crunching to serve as a starter in comparing a new arena to a JAR maximum renovation:

Forum member akronad posted here that he was told by an architect that every chairback seat = 1 1/2 bleacher seats.

ZachTheZip posted here that he counted seats at the JAR and estimated there are currently about 2,350 chairback seats and about 3,150 bleacher seats. A rough estimate would be that replacing 3,150 bleacher seats with 2,100 chairback seats would result in an all-chairback seating capacity of about 4,450.

So a $38 million JAR renovation with 4,450 seats would result in a cost per seat of $8,540.

A $51.5 million TD Arena clone with 5,100 seats would result in a cost per seat of $10,100.

So the new construction ends up being only an 18% increase in cost per seat over a full renovation. Beyond the obvious that the new construction is going to have a longer lifespan and reduced maintenance costs over a full renovation, sight lines in a renovated JAR could never match the new construction as the main support columns in the corners of the JAR prevent wraparound seating.

Everything I've read about Dr. Scarborough is that one of his biggest strengths is understanding financial matters. If the rough numbers above can be verified by professionals, I'm confident that Dr. Scarborough could make a smart decision on which investment would produce the best longterm returns for UA.

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Balsy    419

Down payment? You think they're paying this in cash?

Never said that. But if you're going to take out loans up to $38 million...and pay interest on those loans...to fix the JAR...you might as well get loans on $70ish million and get a better arena. If you're going to flush that much money into something, at least upgrade.

I would say it's like a 25 year old buying a 100K house to start out instead of a 250K home. They can only do what they can afford.

Horrible analogy. You can resale the 100k house once you've paid it off. You can't sell the JAR or really use it for anything that will remotely come close to covering the cost to upgrade it in the first place if you decide to build a new arena in the future.

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tboned    11

I was a student when the JAR was constructed. The original plan called for a larger facility. A downturn in the economy left the Administration with a decision to build a lesser facility or wait for an economic recovery and additional money from the State. Let’s get it right this time. Build a new facility on the east side of the JAR. Connect the two buildings and your practice facility is already there. This also has the added benefit of locating all of our athletic buildings within a half block of each other. Forget a downtown facility. It is clear the people of Akron and Summit County aren’t interested.

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zippy5    608

Never said that. But if you're going to take out loans up to $38 million...and pay interest on those loans...to fix the JAR...you might as well get loans on $70ish million and get a better arena. If you're going to flush that much money into something, at least upgrade.

Horrible analogy. You can resale the 100k house once you've paid it off. You can't sell the JAR or really use it for anything that will remotely come close to covering the cost to upgrade it in the first place if you decide to build a new arena in the future.

If you're taking out 38, you might as well take out 70? These are millions.. 32 extra million dollars. You say it like it's nothing.

I'm assuming the new JAR will have some luxury options, really the only way to bring in extra revenue. Use that to start saving for a new arena.

As far as I can tell, the options are A) renovated JAR or B.) do nothing. I don't really see a new arena as an option now, or I'd be all for it. I understand this is lipstick on a pig, but I suppose it beats the pig we have.

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Balsy    419

Yes I say it's like nothing, because if you're going to make a pretty substantial investment in something, you might as well do it right the first time. Investing $38 million to put lipstick on a pig (along with all the interest you pay on the loan) and then a decade or less later take another $70ish million loan (with the interest) and start over again...you've now committed an absurdly large amount of what is already limited resources to an arena.

The JAR would have some luxury options? It doesn't matter...it would never recover the cost of dumping money into a complete overhaul. But going by the logic you just suggested, the new downtown arena would probably have even grander luxury options...so again, (by that logic) just go that route in the first place.

That's why I'm saying that they need to choose one, or the other. We can't and shouldn't do both. (not I'm talking about the complete overhaul of the JAR, which isn't likely to happen anyways...so this little disagreement is a little irrelevant).

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Lee Adams    27

Don't normally comment on Bball for several reasons. But this is not just a Bball related matter. This was and is about how taxpayers and the University administration have chosen to spend AVAILABLE $$$$ over the years. The University never previously chose to spend $$$$ on a new or upgraded Bball facility. That is even though one has been needed for at least 10 years. The Administration DID choose to spend AVAILABLE money on a football facility.

Thats a choice the University Administration made correctly or not. The local community saw through the scam Plusquellic and the rest of the county officials were trying to foist and rejected an income tax hike even after the arena commitment was supposedly removed. Thats a shame because I think the proposal was poisoned once it was originally connected with an arena that would have been built for Plusquellic and Akron correctly or not. Voters could not or would not make the separation even though safety forces really did need the tax. Frankly,as we all know Bball has been far more successful here than Fball. Its just not as 'glamorous'. Ha Ha.

Right now with Akron athletics, its take whatever money you can get and run with it.

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Staton14    40

The study they had done on the JAR suggested that they spend $38 million to do all the suggested renovations. They probably wouldn't do all of it though. The renovation would probably be much less, maybe around $20 million if I had to guess.

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ZachTheZip    362

The study they had done on the JAR suggested that they spend $38 million to do all the suggested renovations. They probably wouldn't do all of it though. The renovation would probably be much less, maybe around $20 million if I had to guess.

Go big or go home. Half-assing it is what got us stuck with the JAR in the first place.

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Balsy    419

The study they had done on the JAR suggested that they spend $38 million to do all the suggested renovations. They probably wouldn't do all of it though. The renovation would probably be much less, maybe around $20 million if I had to guess.

Even $20 million on the JAR is too much if we have any future plans of a new arena.

Go big or go home. Half-assing it is what got us stuck with the JAR in the first place.

exactly what I'm saying.

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tomzip    7

I too liked the TD arena, I wasn't there, but looked it up. I would look at a 5 to 6k seat arena that is similar. We are at historically low interest rates and I would like to see the University make up the shortfall (from donations and naming rights) with a bond issuance. Never going to be a cheaper time to issue bonds than now.

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Dave in Green    334

tomzip, all the Zips fans who went to Charleston really liked TD Arena. It's not fancy or extravagant, but it's modern and nice. I really felt comfortable there and would be totally satisfied if the Zips played in a facility like that. The only odd part to me is that the second level consisted of only four rows of seats. It was almost as if they had down-scaled it from a larger arena that had many more rows of seats in the second level. I think these modern arenas are fairly flexible in terms of seating capacity, so you can get the same basic design and just add or subtract rows of seats from the second level. The best part to me is that Dr. Scarborough was there and got a chance to experience that arena firsthand. It's absolutely the type of arena that would work for UA, and at just over $50 million the cost is not unreasonable, though far from a slam dunk given the current financial situation. But I do think it serves as a great benchmark for a new arena compared with a JAR renovation, and I'm glad that Dr. Scarborough got to experience the Zips win there over South Carolina.

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