So You Want to Fix the Convo
After UTSA’s embarrassing loss to McMurry last night a lot of fans (wisely) pointed towards the Convocation Center as the highest hurdle facing UTSA basketball. Even if you’re in the camp that wants to fire Brooks Thompson, what will the next coach have to recruit kids to? The harsh reality is that the Convo is an inflated high school arena that was not designed to be expanded. Obviously a new basketball arena is years away ($75 million is the anticipated cost for that) but what would it take for UTSA to spruce things up with some improved lighting, a videoboard or dome-style seating? Let’s take a look around the country.
I think Stony Brook’s latest expansion is something comparable to what the Convo needs. Stony Brook’s arena is about the same size as the Convo, seating around 4,000. Their latest innovation changed the slope of the seating to give it theater seating, something that the Convo lacks. The Seawolves also added an HD video screen, improved practice courts, enhanced concession stands, and expanded the size of their concourse. Having a true concourse would improve the gameday atmosphere of the Convo tremendously. It’s more of a foyer right now.
Total cost: $21.2 million
So there’s a nice, total overhaul that could make the Convo a decent little kozy arena. How about a slightly smaller upgrade that would still make a huge difference? The University of Richmond recently decreased their arena capacity by about 3,000, from 8k to 5k. While the arena will seat less folks, Spiders fans can enjoy the luxury of having padded seats while catching replays on one of the arena’s four 15-by-32 feet video boards. Another cool renovation is the installation of LED lighting. Assuming the Robins Center had fluorescent lighting before, the new lighting will be brighter and more focused on the court, providing a nice and dim atmosphere in the seats. I also like the idea to remove a few rows of seats in the student section in the hopes that students will stand together and cheer on their feet. It’s a gamble with a high reward.
Total cost: $17 million
That’s a lot of money, huh? How about just a nice video board and improved audio? Conference USA mate Louisiana Tech just stepped up and knocked this challenge out of the park with the installation of a huge, beautiful video board. Provided by a donation from Paul Millsap, the Thomas Assembly Center will now feature four LED screens (7.3 by 11.4 feet) suspended above the court with two LED ribbon board displays (45.8 feet by 61.4 inches). Two video boards and two traditional scoreboards will also be installed in the four corners of the arena. Perhaps as a friendly nudge, Louisiana Tech chose to use a picture of the Bulldogs playing against UTSA to introduce the impressive main videoboard.
Total cost: $1.2 million
Hey, not bad. If every UTSA alum donated $20 that thing could be paid for and installed by next season. Or the football team could bring in a bowl game payment… What changes would you guys like to see made to the Convo? One small and cheap improvement would be to install speakers outside the northern side of the arena. The Convo currently has such speakers playing the radio feed of the game outside the southern side of the arena so if you show up a few minutes late you can still follow the game as you walk inside. Why not appeal to students walking through campus on the other end of the building? If someone is walking back to their car after evening class and have nothing to do back home they might be inspired to slip into the Convo to catch a game after hearing the action on the radio while strolling down the Paseo. Drop some suggestions in the comment section below:
A UTSA alumnus that has been cast away to Austin, Jared enjoys live music and a craft beer. He thinks four verts is the best play in football but loves a QB sneak on fourth and inches. Twitter