In a press conference held last week, Athletic Director Dan Radakovich unveiled the renderings of Hank McCamish Pavilion, the future home of Bobby Cremins Court and Tech’s basketball teams. The new venue will replace Alexander Memorial Coliseum (AMC), which has housed Tech’s basketball programs since 1956.
Plans to construct the replacement basketball facility began when Tech received a $15 million lead gift from the family of Henry F. “Hank” McCamish, Jr., IM ’50. The Board of Regents approved plans for the rest of the renovation and rebuilding project at their Oct. meeting. The total estimated cost for McCamish Pavilion is $45 million. It was estimated that the current facility would require between $15 and $18 million in currently unfunded maintenance over the next seven to 10 years.
Radakovich noted favorable construction costs and interest rates as well as the significant donation from the McCamish family as key reasons to construct the new McCamish Pavilion.
The campus team in charge of the project, consisting of members from the Athletic Association, government relations, campus planning, facilities and administration recently hired the architectural firm Populus and contractor Whiting-Turner.
“We’re incredibly excited about this opportunity to really reshape the home of Georgia Tech basketball,” Radakovich said.
McCamish Pavilion’s design has a strong focus on how fans will take in Tech basketball games. It will look drastically different from AMC on both the inside and the outside, which is why the decision was made to completely rename the venue.
“This is a basketball building. And we’re going to use it for men’s and women’s basketball. It is not being redone to be a concert facility or other venue,” Radakovich said.
He estimated that transferring the current building into a venue that could support concerts could have doubled the $45 million construction cost. With the availability of other venues for those types of events throughout Atlanta, it was decided to forgo those extra costs and focus on the basketball fan’s experience.
AMC has been commonly referred to as the “Thrillerdome” by students and fans ever since Tech radio broadcaster Brad Nessler coined the term during the 1983-1984 Men’s Basketball season.
As a tribute to its nickname, the decision was made to keep the actual dome of AMC intact. It will remain in place at the new McCamish Pavilion.
McCamish Pavilion’s capacity will be set to 8,900 seats, roughly 300 seats fewer than AMC. In contrast to the current arrangement, all of the seating—chairs and benches—will be offered with backs.
Other than the introduction of a new student entrance on Fowler Street, the in-game experience for students will remain largely unchanged. Student seating will still be located behind the baskets, close to the court.
The concourse will be wider, and its design will give fans a better sense of court orientation by offering a 270-degree open view.
The design of the new facility will still recognize the current building’s nameholder, William Alexander, who was Tech’s third athletic director and was football coach from 1920-1944.
“We are creating, just outside the student entrance, the Alexander Courtyard, where we’ll have a bust of Coach Alexander, his name, along with significant achievements and events that occurred inside the coliseum. So that will be a very nice gathering spot for students or alums coming to our basketball events,” Radakovich said.
Construction will break ground in the spring of 2011 and is expected to be completed by fall 2012.
In the interim, the men’s and women’s basketball teams will be without an on-campus site for their home games during the 2011-12 season.
The campus team in charge of the project is still in the process of finding a temporary venue for Tech’s home games for that season. Phillips Arena and Gwinnett Arena have both been mentioned and are both being considered as possible interim facilities.
Tech would like to keep the teams as close to campus as possible. Availability will be the key component in that decision. Radakovich expects a decision to be made and announced in the first quarter of next year.
AMC was dedicated on Nov. 30, 1956, with the men’s basketball team losing the inaugural game 71-61 to Duke. The last game at AMC is scheduled for March 6, 2011, when the men’s basketball team closes its season against Miami.