Oregon State today announced some upgrades to Gill Coliseum and Ralph Miller Court that will greet basketball fans come November.
Private funding of approximately $2 million will change what fans see, hear, and feel. The success of the hoops teams the last 2 years, capped by Wayne Tinkle’s men’s team returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 26 years, and Scott Rueck’s women’s team reaching the Final Four, and the resulting uptick in attendance for both (attendance for men’s games reached an all-time low at Gill in Craig Robinson’s final season) prompted the improvements.
“At no time has the excitement about our teams that compete in Gill Coliseum been higher; now is the time to capitalize and move forward in the investment in our programs,” Vice President/Director of Athletics Todd Stansbury said. “The quality of our game-day experience for our great fans, particularly the Beaver Dam, to the student-athletes is an emphasis. It is vitally important that we showcase Oregon State Athletics in the best way possible to the nation and that is why I’m excited to announce our continued efforts to transform Gill Coliseum.”
The University released the above generated image to illustrate the visual effects of the changes, which will flip the logo, and the location of the sideline television cameras. This will put the usually well filled and enthusiastic Beaver Dam student section in the background for television, instead of the often half empty, and sometimes half asleep, season ticket section behind the team benches and scorer’s table.
This invert necessitated flipping the logo, and will also include a new “Ralph Miller Court” logo above the Beaver logo, centered at mid-court.
If the floor treatment is faithful to the picture, then the black keys will also become a thing of the past, which would be a big improvement visually.
The other changes fans will notice include the replacement of the seats in the lower bowl, and a replacement of the sound system.
The old, hard orange plastic seats that stood out when empty will be replaced by modern padded seats that include cup holders, and will afford a higher sight line.
The University didn’t say, but hopefully, as was done with the last seat replacement, some more of the bench-board seats will be replaced by reusing the old actual seats, which are bad, but still better.
It’s not clear whether replacement of the seats in the lower bowl includes only replacing the seats, or putting actual seats in the portion of the lower bowl that has only bleachers, but since those sections collapse for use for some sports, that may not be possible.
The replacement of the decades old speakers includes an actual sound system, with speakers distributed around the arena, instead of only in the rafters. The restrooms at the lower level will also be upgraded.
Unfortunately, no mention of upgrades to the ancient awful lighting was made, or of a modernization to the outside of the building, but deputy athletic director Zack Lassiter indicated in a comment to the Oregonian that more modernizations may be coming to Gill, which dates to 1949, and is the second oldest arena in the Pac-12, ahead of only Washington’s Hec Edmundson Pavillion. Washington made a major renovation before the 2000 season though, leaving Gill as not only one of the oldest, but also the least modern and versatile in the west.
“After this year, we’ll do the same thing. We’ll look at what other stuff can we get done,” Lassiter said to the Oregonian. “I think we’re looking at a period of time where the entire department believes that this is our time to make investments in infrastructure, and there’s clearly going to be a return in that investment because of the quality of coaches that are in place.”
Securing funding will dictate which projects can be addressed, and in what order.
The improvements, while much overdue, are also much welcomed, and hopefully will lead to more in the next few years.