University of Oklahoma athletics director Joe Castiglione says that there are master plans for a Lloyd Noble Center renovation, though it is uncertain what OU will decide about the arena.
Recent discussions focused on the possibility of moving the university’s basketball programs out of the Lloyd Noble Center and into a new arena. A proposed off-campus venue was floated by the OU Foundation as the anchor of a larger development concept that included entertainment areas. The project was pitched to take place in the north section of University North Park in Norman, and would be backed in part by tax increment financing revenues.
However, the plan was met with skepticism from some members of the Norman City Council, and the OU Foundation withdrew its TIF proposal last month. Long term, OU will have to decide how to handle the aging Lloyd Noble Center–which first opened 1975–and whether its best option is to replace or renovate the facility.
In recent comments, Castiglione said that the university has master plans for a Lloyd Noble Center renovation. However, he explained that the cost of the renovation would be high and noted that the prospects for a new arena have not diminished completely. More from the Oklahoman:
“It’s not inexpensive, however,” Castiglione said. “We’re talking about a building that’s now above 45 years old. It’s strong. It’s structurally sound and it’s obviously very functional. We plan to have the Lloyd Noble Center for many years to come. The master plan has more to do with the ever-changing interests, needs and requirements of fans and what they’re expecting in their venues.”…
Castiglione said Saturday that the proposed off-campus facility isn’t a dead idea.
“It’s still being discussed,” Castiglione said. “We had some signals from the city government and we’re now talking about some other opportunities that might present itself. We’re working behind the scenes to see what that might mean going forward. I’m not at liberty to get into any other kind of detail, but it’s an active subject as far as we’re concerned. There’s no timetable.”
Plans to renovate Lloyd Noble Center, the home of Sooner basketball since 1975, would cost “well in excess of $100 million,” Castiglione said.
There has been a steady flux of college arena renovations over the last few years, but Oklahoma will have to take its time to map out a decision. Cost will be a factor, and it remains to be seen whether discussions of a new arena could be revived in a meaningful way that ultimately leads to it being constructed.
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