Illinois State University’s Board of Trustees approved the University’s Academic Plan 2018-2023, which will include a project to replace the lower bowl seating and other renovations for Redbird Arena.
The renovations include the use of $6.8 million in auxiliary facilities system revenue bonds to replace lower bowl seating areas in Redbird Arena, adding railings and a new private suite.
ISU President Larry Dietz said the renovations originated because the parts needed for the aged seats are not available anymore.
“If you’ve been in that facility you can sit down in a row of seats and those seats are all fixed together. The fastenings that have held the seats to the floor have in many instances broken down, so you get to watch a game and get a ride at the same time. The renovations are really meant to provide for better seating,” Dietz said.
“The other part is that we will also be putting rails down on the lower bowl in between the sections so people who have a little more difficulty maneuvering down those stairs can have something to hold onto, so that is a big part of that,” he said.
The retractable seating in the lower bowl has been in place since it first opened in 1989. The estimated cost for the projects is $6.2 million.
Additionally, 15 new platform seating locations will be installed to meet the requirements mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Nine loge box seating locations will also be added.
“There’s also going to be one more suite that’s going to be added to the facility. It’s mainly just redoing all the seats in the lower bowl, adding accessible seating areas and making it more secure and adding that rail down the middle so people can hang onto that,” Dietz said.
The renovations to Redbird Arena will begin after the season is over, with hopes to get the projects done by the end of this current basketball season and the beginning of the next one.
“There’s going to be a lot of activity over the summer,” Dietz said.
In addition to the renovations being done in Redbird Arena, the Horton Field House will have its flooring and indoor track system replaced; it was built in 1961.
The project will be financed by $600,000 in facility reserve funds. The recommended life span of the flooring is 10 years.
ISU’s Director of Athletics Larry Lyons told the Board of Trustees that work on the arena project will start after spring graduation ceremonies and will be completed for the volleyball season in fall.