The Cincinnati Bearcats may soon select a temporary home for the 2017-18 college basketball season, a move necessitated by renovations to Fifth Third Arena.
After the current season concludes, a major renovation project will begin at Fifth Third Arena. The $87 million overhaul will be broad in scope, covering improvements to the exterior, the installation of a new 360-degree concourse, seating changes, audio and video technology upgrades, and more.
Construction will prevent the Bearcats from using the arena next fall, meaning that in the interim, the team will be forced to play at a temporary home. Two contenders to land the team next season are U.S. Bank Arena in downtown Cincinnati, as well as Northern Kentucky University’s BB&T Arena.
Though no official decision has been released, reports have indicated that BB&T Arena is the leading contender. In response, U.S. Bank Arena COO Ray Harris issued a statement to address the issue. Fox 19 NOW has his full remarks, a portion of which emphasize that no decision has been made and that U.S. Bank Arena believes it is a strong fit for the program:
Our motivation for hosting these games is the desire to be an active part of this community. It makes sense to host these games Downtown and create a positive economic impact to the small businesses and local community that supports the University. Hosting the Bearcats at U.S. Bank Arena during the next season will contribute to the growth and success of The Banks. The fans and business community supported UC’s Football team downtown while Nippert Stadium was being renovated and we believe that they will again. Additionally, there is parking and public transportation infrastructure in place to support large crowds. The downtown location and its amenities provide the perfect backdrop and experience for Bearcat fans and can help UC maintain the increase in crowd size that the Bearcats are enjoying this season.
While a final decision has yet to be relayed to us, we continue to be proactive in expressing our desire to host these games. We welcome any conversation on the behalf of the University and Athletic Department leaders.”
In that same story, Fox 19 NOW cites a source who says that Cincinnati is working toward an agreement for BB&T Arena, but that it has not been finalized:
FOX19 NOW has been told by a source that UC does intend to play the 2017-18 season at NKU’s BB&T Arena while Fifth Third Arena is under renovation.
Regardless of where the team ends up, 2017-18 will mark the first time in decades that the Bearcats do not play their home schedule at Fifth Third Arena. The team has played at the venue since its opening as the Myrl H. Shoemaker Center in 1989.