After several months of renovations, the Hooper Eblen Center has a new look on the inside.
All the seats have been replaced with new state-of-the-art seats and handrails. There is new wheelchair-bound seating and companion seating along with a stair nose to prevent slipping on the concrete. These renovations were the primary elements of the process according to Tennessee Tech Athletic Director Mark Wilson.
It was a long process of getting the renovations started and then getting it completed. Wilson said renovations to the facility have been on his mind since he interviewed for the job in 2004.
“It’s been a long process of planning and things of that nature,” Wilson said. “The actual construction took place from basically right before commencement last year in April, when we officially started, until this September.”
Fans can now enjoy larger areas of seating when they come to the Hoop. The seats are wider so it provides fans with more legroom.
Nick Cantrell, a 6-foot-9 basketball fan and Tech student, is happy about the updates.
“Any added room at all is an improvement,” Cantrell said.
Since the renovations are not fully completed, Wilson could not give a final cost.
“It was a pretty extensive project for Tennessee Tech athletics to bring this building up to current standards with the Americans with Disabilities Act and provide a better experience for our fans.”
LED lighting is the next step in the renovations at the Hoop. The lights will be installed over the course of the winter but will not be completed for the start of basketball season. The lights will help save energy and give better quality for broadcasts.
Wilson said they are very proud of the renovations and hopes the fans, students and users take good care of the new seats in the arena. The old chairs lasted from 1977, and he hopes to get the same long life span out of the new seats.
“If we all have pride and take care of it and keep our feet out of the seats and don’t step on the seats, it’s going to last a long time,” Wilson said.