Northwestern University is preparing to debut its renovated Welsh-Ryan Arena, as men’s basketball will host an exhibition on Friday night.
Starting in March 2017, Welsh-Ryan Arena underwent a substantial renovation that required it to close until this fall to accommodate construction. The upgrade has resulted in a modernized and more intimate venue, as the seating capacity was reduced from 8,117 to 7,039. In addition, the renovated Welsh-Ryan Arena features new premium areas, along with widened concourses, an expanded lobby, upgraded concession and restroom facilities, new locker rooms, and more.
After spending the 2017-18 season at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Northwestern’s men’s basketball program will return to Welsh-Ryan Arena on Friday to host an exhibition game against McKendree. The sold-out game will provide a first-hand look at the changes to Welsh-Ryan Arena, and showcase what should be improved experiences for fans and players alike. More from the Chicago Tribune:
“I have to believe this is one of the very best venues in college basketball,” Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips said. “I know people will enjoy the amenities, but I also think they will be blown away by the intimacy.”
The Tribune was granted a tour of the spectacular new Welsh-Ryan in advance of Friday night’s unveiling, a 7 p.m. exhibition against McKendree that is sold out, if you can believe it.
The arena is larger in footprint but smaller in capacity, trimming from 8,117 seats to 7,039, a number chosen because Northwestern hosted the first NCAA tournament in 1939.
The completion of the renovation also allows for women’s basketball to return after it spent last season at Beardsley Gym in Evanston, IL. Women’s basketball will host an exhibition against Lewis University on Sunday.
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