NC State removes seats, adds amenities in Reynolds Coliseum overhaul

RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina State has spent more than a year giving a new look to tradition-rich Reynolds Coliseum, yanking out thousands of seats and moving the court to make room for new team offices and a sports walk of fame.

That $35 million project to add modern touches to a nearly 70-year-old campus arena is closing in on a long-awaited completion.

"It's bringing it up to date with amenities but preserving the character of Reynolds," said Michael Lipitz, the school's deputy athletics director for internal operations. "It's the balance of old and new. That's the theme of the project."

Work began on Reynolds in March 2015, displacing sports such as women's basketball, volleyball, gymnastics and wrestling. Women's basketball played primarily at a nearby high school while the other sports competed at temporary venues through the 2015-16 sports season as construction crews reshaped an arena that opened in 1949 near the heart of the Raleigh campus.

That remodeling is expected to be finished in late August.

The biggest change for Reynolds will be its capacity. It held 10,000 to 12,000 fans at various points during its half-century as home to the men's basketball program, which spanned the careers of program greats like David Thompson and late coach Jim Valvano before the program moved to an off-campus arena in 1999.

Reynolds' most recent configuration had around 8,300 seats, far more than needed for women's basketball games that drew an average crowd of around 2,000 during their last season here. And with the court centered in an elongated rectangular building featuring deep end-zone seating sections, N.C. State had plenty of room to work inside the building's existing footprint.

So workers removed about 2,800 seats and shifted the seating bowl to the south end of the building, reducing the capacity to around 5,500. That opened space at the north end for new team offices -- with a glass wall overlooking the new bowl -- and a home for the Wolfpack's sports walk of fame, which will weave around the building from a new grand hall and through the concourses.

Workers substantially widened those concourses on the ground level and added a new lighting system, overhead scoreboard and LED displays. They updated restrooms and concessions areas. And they have installed the first building-wide permanent air conditioning system.

"We had to selectively (demolish) parts of the building but leave other parts," said Jim Estep, the construction project manager. "Then we had to take new materials, new steel, new walls and integrate them into what's here."

Along the way, they found reminders of the building's history, too. That included uncovering the rubber-like Tartan basketball court that was permanently installed in the 1970s. The free-throw lane, midcourt block-S logo and the word "State" along the red baseline are still visible underneath all the dust, dirt and equipment lifting workers to the rafters from the arena floor.

When the renovation is complete, it will be covered again by the new hardwood court scheduled for installation in late June or early July.

"It's going to be a busy summer as we close out to August," Lipitz said. "Everyone's really excited because you can see the finish line at this point."


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