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Northwestern announce complete renovation to Welsh-Ryan arena

Calling Welsh-Ryan arena an actual arena has been the butt of many a joke in Big Ten country. That appears as if it is all changing, as Northwestern announced a complete renovation to the most old-school of B1G arenas.

Included in that renovation plan are chairs with actual seat backs, thusly eliminating the bleacher style seating and making it feel much more like an actual college arena and less of a high school gym.

Fans will also be encouraged by upgrades to bathrooms, concessions and concourse areas as well.

Student-athletes in men’s and women’s basketball along with volleyball will also be pleased to see upgrades to their facilities including new locker rooms and increased practice space.

Here is a full list of the changes in the $100 million project that has been made possible once again by the Ryan family’s generous donation to kick things off:

  • New seating throughout the arena, with chair-back seats replacing existing wood bleachers
  • Wider, more accessible concourses with improved lighting to alleviate congestion
  • Improved accessibility for the mobility-impaired, with five new elevators replacing the existing one
  • New restrooms, doubling the number of toilet fixtures as well as the addition of accessible family restrooms
  • New concession areas with twice as many point-of-sale stations to increase efficiency, along with new food and drink offerings
  • State-of-the-art lighting, audio and video capabilities in the arena
  • Premium seating areas and expansion of the N-Club, which provides space for pre- and post-game events, by more than 400 percent. The club, which is located on the second floor, will be extended south onto Randy Walker Terrace at Ryan Field and provide expanded hospitality opportunities on football gamedays.
  • Expansion of the building lobby by nearly 50 percent
  • A new ticket office
  • New locker rooms for men’s basketball, women’s basketball and volleyball 
  • New offices for men’s and women’s basketball 
  • Expansion of usable court space in both the main arena and fieldhouse.

The new seating configuration hasn’t been released just yet but the mockup clearly puts a modern spin on the completely out-of-date Welsh-Ryan arena.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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