In the fall of 2008, the University of Tennessee Athletics Department unveiled Phase I of a two-phase renovation project for Thompson-Boling Assembly Center and Arena.
The $35 million project marked the first major renovation to Thompson-Boling Arena since it opened in 1987. In that time, more than 13 million patrons have attended thousands of arena events, including basketball games, concerts, UT and high school graduations and other special events.
Phase I renovations to Thompson-Boling Arena added loge seating and 32 luxury suites on the arena's north side, which were a primary funding source for the project. Visit the Tennessee Fund homepage for information on luxury seating options.
Phase I included new seats for the entire arena, a center-hung scoreboard and concourse refurbishments, such as graphics and other amenities.
Phase I also included new luxury suites and loge seating, which are a primary funding source for much of the renovations. The 32 luxury suites are located in the existing north balcony of Thompson-Boling Arena. The loge area features 166 side court seats, located directly below the luxury suites and includes private adjoining hospitality areas.
Phase II also included the construction of a bridge connecting the G-10 parking garage to the arena at concourse level.
Funding for Thompson-Boling Arena renovations is from donors to the Campaign for Tennessee Basketball and revenue from new premium seating areas such as Thompson-Boling Arena luxury suites and loge seats and membership to the Riverview Club.
The aforementioned capital projects will bolster Thompson-Boling Arena's reputation as one of the nation's premier basketball facilities.
Only Syracuse's Carrier Dome, which also is utilized for football, can seat more on-campus basketball fans.
Named for the late B. Ray Thompson and former UT President Dr. Edward J. Boling, the arena regularly hosts women's volleyball matches, concerts, camps, conferences and other special events throughout the year.
Thompson-Boling Arena opened during the 1987-88 season, with Tennessee defeating Marquette 82-56 before a crowd of 25,272.
In its opening season, the Vols finished third nationally with an average attendance of more than 20,000 fans per game.
But much of the facility's storied history has centered around men's and women's basketball.
In the last two decades, the Vols and Lady Vols have hosted record college basketball crowds, as well as WNBA and NCAA Tournament basketball games.The Vols have ranked fourth in the nation in average home attendance for each of the past three seasons, including an average of 20,483 fans per game in 2008-09.
Tennessee's 1989 men's game against Kentucky set the SEC regular-season record with a crowd of 25,610. The Lady Vols drew 24,597 for their 1998 game with Connecticut to establish a women's NCAA record, while a Celtics-Bullets game in 1988 attracted a then-record NBA exhibition record crowd of 23,611.
The arena's largest basketball crowd since its capacity dipped to 21,678 prior to the 2007-08 season came on Jan. 7, 2009, when the Vols hosted Gonzaga in front of a sellout crowd of 22,326.
UT hosted the NCAA Tournament's South Regional Finals in 1999 and 1994 in the spacious facility.
The 1990 NCAA Southeast Region's first and second round games, followed by the NCAA Women's Final Four made Knoxville a basketball hotspot.
The 1989 SEC Tournament was the first of what promised to be many postseason tournaments to be held in Thompson-Boling Arena. The riverfront arena has drawn rave reviews from teams, administrators and media for its modern facilities needed for hosting major tournaments.
Women's Locker Room
Completed in 1989 and renovated during the summer of 1998, the Tennessee Lady Volunteer basketball locker room was already regarded as the finest women's collegiate facility in the country. That's why it may surprise observers and frustrate opponents when they learn that the area was upgraded to an even higher level. Approximately 1,500 square feet were added to the locker room in the summer of 1998, bringing the total square footage to an eye-popping 4,500 square feet.
Upon entering, visitors will be amazed at the 900-square-foot living room and recreation area, easily the centerpiece of the redesign. This home away from home for the student-athletes includes lounge seating and occasional tables, an enormous projection screen TV for team viewing, along with custom trophy cases. Meanwhile, the recreation area houses an orange felt pool table, several video game systems, tables and chairs for studying or eating, a wall-mounted television and yet another custom trophy case.
Both of these areas showcase the unparalleled Lady Vol success story from the past to the present with displays containing photos of all six National Championship teams, every Lady Vol Final Four entry, SEC Championship squads and highlights of the various teams' visits to the White House. In addition, these rooms feature architectural pilasters of natural oak with brass lettering celebrating Tennessee's program and its unprecedented six national crowns.
Central to the room is a huge circular support pillar, which is traditionally signed by graduating players immediately after commencement ceremonies on the floor of spacious Thompson-Boling Arena. One hundred percent of all Lady Vol basketball players who complete their eligibility have graduated or are completing their degree requirements.
Another feature to the facility is a 550-square-foot team meeting and film room that includes Regal Cinema seating for the players, and a 60-inch plasma flat screen television. The room also displays the impressive individual honors of current and former team members, along with pictures of UT All-Americans and Olympians -- more than any other school in the country for women's hoops.
Prior to the 1998 renovation, the locker room received a complete facelift in 1995-96 with the addition of custom wall-to-wall carpeting, a leather sectional sofa and assorted chairs, a state-of-the-art sound system, and a home theatre/surround sound big screen television. However, these amenities pale in comparison to what the Lady Vols will enjoy as they head into what they hope will be another successful campaign.
Other spaces featured in these palatial digs include a kitchen with a microwave and well-stocked refrigerator, a guest restroom, manager's office and a separate area for storage. Further down the hall is the training and taping area for basketball, the athletic trainer's private office and a physician's examining room. Around one more corner is a large dressing area for the players, complete with individual cubicles. Connected to this area are individual showers, whirlpools and restroom facilities.
The atmosphere is made homey with plush carpeting and fine furniture throughout with the predominant colors being orange, white and columbia blue. Over the past several years, custom rugs were made highlighting each of the NCAA Championships.
Hundreds of collegiate coaches and fans took a tour through the locker room during the Final Four in 1990. Their interest was piqued due to Coach Summitt's eviction of the Lady Vols from their plush pad after a dismal 1989 road swing through California. The story landed on the front page of the USA TODAY sports section and was the topic of conversation with the media for the month the team was kept out of the locker room. Said junior pivot Carla McGhee at the time, "It was like we didn't pay our rent by playing hard and she evicted us."
Women's Attendance Records
|LADY VOLS LARGEST HOME CROWDS|
As of Jan. 1, 2008
Nearly every season that the Lady Vols have played in Thompson-Boling Arena attendance records have gone by the wayside.
In 1998-99, the Lady Vols played before an average crowd of 16,565, the largest average home crowd in the history of women's collegiate basketball. In all, 231,915 fans viewed home games in Knoxville.
During the 1997-98 season, Tennessee set even more collegiate attendance records. On Jan. 3, the Lady Vols entertained a new women's collegiate record 24,597 fans for the game against Connecticut. A month later, the first advance sell-out in UT Women's Athletics history occurred for the Old Dominion game in Knoxville, which 24,373 fans attended.
Tennessee again broke the all-time attendance mark during the 2001-02 season when 24,611 fans visited the arena for a No. 1-No. 2 matchup against Connecticut. It was set again in 2006 when the Huskies came to Knoxville in front of 24,653 spectators.
The women's basketball attendance mark was established at the NCAA Final Four when 29,619 people filled the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, for the semifinals and finals.
Ticket facilities are conveniently located on the Phillip Fulmer Way level on the west end of the building. The Tennessee men's basketball staff, along with the women's hoops staff, occupy offices in the arena on the Phillip Fulmer Way level.
Thompson-Boling Arena shown during the 'Live Pink, Bleed Orange' game in 2010 to raise money for breast cancer research and treatment.
The arena's dining center, also located on Phillip Fulmer Way and highlighted by a McAlister's Deli, opened in 1989. It operates on a daily basis, catering to the university's athletic and administrative staff.
Entrances to the building are located on the east and west ends, with protection from the elements provided by tucking the doors under the structure. There are a total of 132 entrance doors to the arena.
A continuous-ring concourse encircles the building permitting entrance to eight large restrooms, six concession areas and 32 portals leading to the arena. The playing floor level provides access to team dressing rooms, press work areas and storage rooms.
The distance from the playing floor to the roof is 120 feet, the equivalent of a 12-story building. The arena is 448 feet long and 310 feet wide. It contains more than 411,000 square feet of floor space and more than 17 million cubic feet of space. The structure's roof measures 142,000 square feet, which is approximately three-and-one-quarter acres.
From McGhee Tyson Airport: Turn north on U.S. Highway 129 leaving airport. After crossing the Tennessee River bridge just outside of Knoxville, exit onto Neyland Drive (Tennessee Highway 153). Turn left (south) at the bottom of the exit ramp and follow road until Thompson-Boling Arena is visible. Turn left onto Lake Loudoun Boulevard. Turn right at stoplight. Follow Phillip Fulmer Way to parking garage.
From I-40 east (from Nashville) and I-75 north (from Chattanooga): Follow I-40 and I-75 to I-40/I-75 junction in west Knoxville. Continue on I-40 east to U.S. Highway 129 south. Follow 129 south to the exit for Neyland Drive (Tennessee Highway 153). Turn left (south) at the bottom of the exit ramp and follow the road until Thompson-Boling Arena is visible. Turn left onto Lake Loudoun Boulevard. Turn right at stoplight. Follow Phillip Fulmer Way to parking garage.
From I-40 west (from Asheville, N.C.): Follow I-40 west to the James White Parkway exit and exit to the left. Follow Parkway to Neyland Drive (Tennessee Highway 153) until Thompson-Boling Arena is visible. Turn right onto Lake Loudoun Boulevard. Turn right at stoplight. Follow Phillip Fulmer Way to parking garage.
From I-75 south (from Lexington, Ky.): Follow I-75 south to I-275 south just past Merchants Road. Follow I-275 to I-40 east. Exit I-40 east onto James White Parkway and follow Parkway to Neyland Drive (Tennessee Highway 153) until Thompson-Boling Arena is visible. Turn right onto Lake Loudoun Boulevard. Turn right at stoplight. Follow Phillip Fulmer Way to parking garage.
All facilities and facilities projects at the University of Tennessee are supported by donations to the Tennessee Fund and season tickets.
For more information on how you can help support Tennessee Athletics, visit the Tennessee Fund homepage for more information.