The University of Arizona athletic department held a press conference Monday to announce planned renovations to McKale Center, which includes a new video board, upgraded seating and a new floor.
Cole and Jeannie Davis, Tucson residents and members of the 1885 Society, a leadership group that provides unrestricted support to the University of Arizona for advancement in academic excellence, committed $6 million to contribute to Phase 1 of the construction. This includes upgraded seating, hand rails, enhanced lighting and a new playing floor. Construction on those aspects is expected to begin in May 2014, pending approval by the Arizona Board of Regents.
Phase 1 will also include a new high-definition scoreboard, which is approximately 25 percent larger than the current one. It includes four 12-by-19 foot Panasonic video boards, a static ring on top for promotional opportunities and two LED rings. The new scoreboard is set to be completed within the next month.
“During our initial introductions, Jeannie and I were so impressed with Sean Miller and his vision for where Arizona basketball was headed,” Cole Davis said. “Now, four years later, we’ve seen the results of that vision and we’re excited to be supporting a program that can compete for championships. It’s important for men’s basketball to be as competitive as possible for the overall health of the athletics department. Our hope is that by helping to strengthen our basketball programs, we can have a positive impact on all student-athletes at Arizona, which in turn, will help them not only have a great experience while in school, but will prepare them to become leaders once their playing days are over.”
The Davis’ gift now gives the department $12.6 million to use on McKale Center renovations. They are working to raise $30 million for Phase 1 and a total of $80 million for the entire renovation project.
“We can’t thank Cole and Jeannie enough for their generosity and support of Arizona Athletics,” said athletic director Greg Byrne. “Their commitment to our programs is admirable and their contributions have gone a long way in providing our student-athletes with the best possible experience. McKale is 40 years old and in need of upgrades in order to keep the facility competitive with others around the country as it relates to recruiting, the fan experience and revenue generation. The Davis’ leadership gift is a huge initial step and we expect it to create momentum for future gifts that will assist in all phases of our renovation plan.”
Conceptual designs – shown left and top right – have already been created to address upgrades that include new locker rooms, concessions and restrooms.
“We are so grateful to the Davis family for their support of men’s basketball at Arizona,” men’s basketball head coach Sean Miller stated. “Their generosity is one of the main reasons for the growth we’ve seen in our program over the last few seasons. They have helped us address many of the needs we identified at the start of our tenure and their kindness has assisted us in creating a foundation for future success.”
Cole and Jeannie Davis bought a retirement home in Tucson, Ariz. in 1999 before making it their permanent residence in 2003. They have now donated $10 million to the Arizona athletic program, including a previous gift for the construction of the Richard Jefferson Gymnasium, its strength and conditioning center and basketball locker room and hallway renovations in McKale Center. They have also supported the C.A.T.S. Life Skills program, the College of Fine Arts and the Arizona Cancer Center.