The Marriott Center: Ainge built it, Jimmer remodeled it, and now the renovations are officially getting under way.
BYU today announced plans to upgrade three sections of the Marriott Center, with construction scheduled to begin just after Women’s Conference. The three sections that will be undergoing changes are the lower-bowl seating on the north side of the arena, the locker rooms for the men and women, and the sound system.
The construction for the seats will remove the benches that had been home to the student section in the past, and replace them with new, more comfortable, individual seats. The resulting improvements to seating will shift the students from their current sections – portals T through Y – to the west seats – portals M through S. The construction is scheduled to be finished by the start of the next season, when the change will take place.
“It will be a really good, long overdue, renovation,” said Tom Holmoe, athletic director for Brigham Young University, in a press conference.
The most noticeable, and audible, change, will be to the seating capacity of the Marriott Center. The current capacity of the Marriott Center is 22,700, making the arena one of the largest basketball arenas in the country. The renovations will lower the amount of available seats by approximately 1,800 seats, with a new capacity of 20,900 – close to the capacity of Energy Solutions Arena (capacity of 19,911).
The team benches will also change, flipping from the south side of the court to the north side. The visiting team’s bench will be closest to the student section.
Student reaction to the change is still up in the air, with some fans questioning the move while others sound optimistic for the future.
“Most schools would want us to heckle the away team, have us come in and totally mess with the other team, which we would do regardless of where we were sitting, but we’ll be right there next to the away team,” said Alex Hoeft, a BYU student, from Las Vegas, studying communications. “I feel like it’s not the classiest thing to do, I would rather be close to the BYU bench and be more supportive when I am cheering instead of focusing on the away team.”
“You don’t see many college student sections behind a basket,” said Matt Cheshire, a 24-year old BYU fan. “Not sure that can increase or maintain the power a student section can bring. It will be different, but then again, BYU is different from everyone else anyway right?”
Fans also chimed in on the subject on the Internet, helping Tom Holmoe trend on Twitter Friday afternoon.
Why is the first reaction to change always whininess and resentment? Attention everyone: The students will be fine behind the basket. #BYU
— Adam Olsen (@aolsen) April 13, 2012
Just got my first call from someone angry with the changes to Marriott Center seating. #BYU
— Kurtis Larson (@kwlarson) April 13, 2012
Holmoe also announced an improvement to online ticket sales. BYU has partnered with Ballena Technologies to create a 3-D selection environment. The system is scheduled to launch in June 2012.
He also announced the launch of a new website, byubasketball.com, devoted specifically to BYU basketball. The website has additional information about the renovations that will be taking place.
“I think we’ll all get used to it, change is just annoying at first,” said Hoeft.
All-sport Passes will not change in price for this season. Seating will continue to be decided on a first-come, first-served basis.