What The University of Cincinnati Is Doing To Raise Athletic Program's And AAC's Profiles

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What the University of Cincinnati is doing to raise athletic...

What was once a disjointed multi-use gymnasium, where each side was separated by a sea of hardwood, will soon be a state-of-the-art arena thanks to $87-million in upgrades, including two 360-degree concourses, cantilevered seats on the baselines, enough video boards to emasculate Times Square, swanky clubs, swanky suites and swanky bars. Cincinnati Bearcats fans will no longer have to convince themselves of the building’s “character” and “charm” while they crane their necks for a slightly less obstructed view. Standing inside, surrounded by the ongoing renovations, it’s hard to even visualize the way things were.

“The arena vision from the get-go was to create a fan experience and gameday environment that was intimate,” University of Cincinnati Athletic Director Mike Bohn said. “As our flagship program, men’s basketball, the stage will be set for us to hopefully exceed all season ticket numbers in the history of the school.”

When the completed Fifth Third is unveiled – inside and out – at the men’s basketball season opener against Ohio State on Nov. 7, it will take place in a slightly less hopeful reality than when the university approved the renovations in late 2015, on the heels of an $86-million refurbishing of Nippert Stadium and in hot pursuit of a Big 12 expansion bid. Those conference pursuits fell through, of course, and with it all of the exposure and branding deals and television money UC envisioned when it embarked on its costly facilities overhaul. Instead, they’re one of the programs tasked with shouldering the purgatorial American Athletic Conference to national relevance. But it hasn’t dampened their ambition.

“I think long term, regardless of any of that (conference realignment) speculation, we feel good about our investment in our facilities. We’re proud of them,” Bohn said. “We’re working on our vision to be the class of the league, and that hasn’t changed. That’s where our focus is.”
 
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