Northwestern University is addressing shortfalls in what’s arguably the Big Ten’s worst basketball facility, as a plan for Welsh-Ryan Arena renovations is unveiled to the public.
The $110-million plan calls for a complete overhaul of the arena, with Welsh-Ryan Arena renovations beginning at the conclusion of the basketball season in March 2017 with anticipated completion by fall 2018. The Welsh-Ryan Arena renovations are made possible by a leadership gift from Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan (whose parents contributed funds for the last round of renovations, leading to the naming), along with a $10 million gift from Stephen R. and Susan K. Wilson, donations from other loyal Northwestern benefactors and the existing athletics maintenance and equipment budget.
The project, part of the 2010 master athletics facilities plan recommendation, will entail a complete renovation of Welsh-Ryan Arena and McGaw Memorial Hall (where Welsh-Ryan Arena is located), including:
- New seating throughout the arena, with chair-back seats replacing existing wood bleachers
- Wider, more accessible concourses with improved lighting to alleviate congestion
- Improved accessibility for the mobility-impaired, with five new elevators replacing the existing one
- New restrooms, doubling the number of toilet fixtures as well as the addition of accessible family restrooms
- New concession areas with twice as many point-of-sale stations to increase efficiency, along with new food and drink offerings
- State-of-the-art lighting, audio and video capabilities in the arena
- Premium seating areas and expansion of the N-Club, which provides space for pre- and post-game events, by more than 400 percent. The club, which is located on the second floor, will be extended south onto Randy Walker Terrace at Ryan Field and provide expanded hospitality opportunities on football gamedays.
- Expansion of the building lobby by nearly 50 percent
- A new ticket office
- New locker rooms for men’s basketball, women’s basketball and volleyball
- New offices for men’s and women’s basketball
- Expansion of usable court space in both the main arena and fieldhouse.
This represents the first top-to-bottom renovation of the arena since it opened in 1953.
The renovations will require the Northwestern Wildcats sports teams to play and practice elsewhere during renovations.