In 2007, the UCF basketball teams will be preparing for home openers in a state-of-the-art, 10,000-seat convocation center that also will host commencement ceremonies, concerts and a variety of other entertainment programs.
A short walk away, UCF students and fans will be able to enjoy a pre-game dinner or a post-game coffee or ice cream. And 2,000 students who live in new apartments next to the convocation center will be able to meet with a tutor, eat at a cafeteria and get a haircut without leaving the north side of campus.
The convocation center, slated to open in fall 2007, is an integral part of UCF's effort to transform the northern part of campus into an area where students, alumni and fans can live, study, work and play.
The convocation center area will include apartments with 2,000 beds, 500 of which are already occupied, and about 89,000 square feet of retail space, possibly including a Ron Jon Surf Shop, Barnes & Noble bookstore and Starbucks. In addition to soccer, baseball and softball fields and a track, the northern area also will include UCF's new football stadium, pending approval of the stadium's financing plan.
The convocation center will have double the seating capacity of the UCF Arena, which will help UCF attract more top concerts and family-oriented shows. The larger facility also will allow UCF graduates to invite more guests to their commencement ceremonies and reduce the number of ceremonies the university has to hold every semester.
The new convocation center will help UCF's basketball teams recruit better student-athletes and attract bigger-name opponents to play on campus. Black-and-gold seats will surround the Golden Knights' new court, and a scoreboard that shows video replays will hang over it. About 7,000 seats will be on the lower level, while about 3,000 will be on an upper level that will be built over half of the lower level. Except for bleachers behind one of the baskets for student seating, all other chairs will have backs.
Fans will enjoy more comfortable seats and a wider selection of food at concession stands, while fans in luxury suites and other premium seats will have catered food service.
No state dollars, tuition or student fees will be used to finance the convocation center, which is part of a $107 million project being funded through a bond issue taken out last year. The bond will be paid back with revenues from the project through a direct-support organization, a nonprofit corporation created by the university to finance it. Naming rights also are available for the convocation center.
Design features of the convocation center that will appeal to entertainment acts include a state-of-the-art sound system and loading docks that will allow more than one truck to unload at the same time on the floor level.
Across from the convocation center site is the new Fairwinds Alumni Center, which will make it convenient for alumni groups to schedule functions in conjunction with events. And the restaurants and shops will give other fans many reasons to spend more time on the UCF campus when they attend a game or a concert.
Convocation Center Fact Sheet
Projected opening date: Fall 2007
Number of seats: 10,000 (current Arena seats 5,100 for basketball games)
Premium seating: 18 luxury suites (includes two party suites), 500 club seats and 64 loge box seats
Events: Basketball games, university and high school commencements, concerts, children's shows and other entertainment
Amenities: State-of-the-art scoreboard with video replays, improved acoustics for concerts and a kitchen that can provide catering services for events.
Cost: $107 million. This includes the convocation center, arena renovations, a landscaped pedestrian mall across Gemini Boulevard and retail space. No state dollars, tuition or student fees will be used to finance the convocation center, which will be supported by revenues from the project.
Student housing: 2,000 beds, including 500 that opened this fall. Another 1,000 are scheduled to open in fall 2006 and the remaining 500 in 2007.
Retail: About 89,000 square feet. Stores and restaurants may include Ron Jon Surf Shop, Barnes & Noble and Starbucks. Other restaurants and stores such as a shipping outlet, a hair and nail salon and a convenience store also may be included.
UCF Arena renovations: The existing arena will be renovated and will become a 2,500-seat arena for volleyball matches and other events, a practice facility for men's and women's basketball and a practice facility for the UCF spirit team, which includes the cheerleaders, dance team and mascot Knightro.