By Lorena Grajales, Staff Writer—
After years of thought and planning, UTC is stepping forward with a new 35,000 square foot athletic center and a renovation to McKenzie Arena.
The athletic center will be named in honor of James “Bucky” Wolford, a UTC alumnus and Mocs All-American defensive back from 1966-69.
After graduating, “Bucky” made part of the UT Board of Trustees and UC Foundation Board, while continuing to be a huge supporter of UTC athletics.
At the beginning of the fall semester, students can expect to see demolition work around gate one of Mckenzie Arena, and foundation building for the Wolford Family Athletics Center.
According to Executive Vice Chancellor Dr. Richard Brown, once this addition is finished, renovation for the arena itself will begin.
Because of the important functions of the arena, it will remain open to the public during the entire construction process.
It is expected that construction will not cause major traffic disturbances, and students will be able to watch the regular progression of the building.
The four-story structure will consist of new football locker rooms, renovations for women’s and men’s basketball locker rooms, coaches’ offices, enlarged communications & media office and even the possibility of a few classrooms.
The main concourse level will include a brand-new multi-purpose room fit for banquets, clubs, Chancellor meetings, and other events. On the fourth level, students can tour around the renovated Hall of Fame to see their favorite players’ trophies and jerseys.
UTC’s Director of Planning and Engineering Services, Kenny Tyler, is working first hand with this development, and said that he was impressed by the university’s ability to evolve over the years.
“I’ve been amazed at how forward-thinking the campus is in wanting to not only fix and maintain what we have, but to put other facilities on campus that would just continue to help UTC grow,” he said.
However, a big project comes with a big price. According to Tyler, the construction costs alone settled for $16.3 million.
From audio and video equipment to testing and furniture, the list of expenses is long, with the grand total coming to $22 million dollars.
This money is coming from a combination of donors, fundraising, and UTC’s funding money, Tyler said.
With high hopes, the project is expected to be completed by the fall of 2022.