Thompson-Boling Arena, University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn.
University of Tennessee's Thompson-Boling Arena, the nation's third largest on-campus basketball arena, has been home to eight NCAA Lady Vols championship teams over the years. Known for its enthusiastic fan base and superior amenities, the Knoxville venue doubles as a conference site and concert hall for crowd-drawing musicians like Def Leppard, Sir Elton John, Jason Aldean and Lauren Daigle (with several 2020 acts postponed due to the health crisis). The arena has been a community landmark and gathering space since its ribbon-cutting ceremony in 1987.
According to manager Tim Reese, "This facility is integral to the University of Tennessee experience; the community, our fans and students come here expecting a spectacle. Our athletes and recruits join our team sports expecting to train and play in one of the finest collegiate arenas in the country. As a result, every renovation and upgrade we make is designed to create a top-notch entertainment and athletic environment that is second to none."
Since 2008, the University of Tennessee has spent nearly $40 million for upgrades and improvements to its showcase facility largely funded from endowments. Renovation projects have included the installation of new seating, 32 luxury suites, a state-of-the-art center-hung scoreboard, concourse refurbishments and brand-new LED lighting.
To ensure a pleasant behind-the-scenes experience for all, the school recently spent $15 million on an extensive redesign of the men's and women's locker rooms. The renovation included first-rate training facilities and an expansion of all restrooms.
"Our firm has been involved in the planning and implementation of renovations since the program began more than 10 years ago," said Brian Nicholson, a partner and project executive at Studio Four Design Inc., a Knoxville-based architectural and design firm. "From the installation of new roofing, tile, fixtures and stalls used at the facility, our agency worked closely with the university to ensure the quality and aesthetics of every product chosen."
Supplied by Franklin, Tenn.-based Division X Specialties Inc., Studio Four collaborated with the college to specify nearly 400 Scranton Products HDPE restroom and urinal partitions for installation throughout the facility. This included partitions, a solid plastic material strongly resembling stainless steel (replacing painted metal) in 20 separate men's and women's restrooms within the circular arena as well as partitions in the coaches' and players' locker rooms.
"At capacity, the arena holds more than 21,000 extremely enthusiastic, cheering fans," noted Reese. "As a result, we wanted a product that would wear well and clean easily under the most difficult circumstances. [The partitions] have done exactly that while looking great time after time. And that's straight from our fans, players and coaches."
As for the design aesthetic, Nicholson added, "The partitions fit beautifully with the arena's orange, white and smoky gray color scheme. In addition, they met all the university's criteria for long-term use and cleanliness. We're constantly on site working on the next phase of renovations and have not heard a single complaint about the partitions."
A leading supplier of commercial and institutional building specialties, Division X Specialties, Inc. has been working with Scranton Products since the late 1990s. Vice-president Charlie Plummer expanded on the benefits of both types of partitions in terms of sustainability and maintenance.
"Private and public institutions, including colleges, are increasingly moving from metal partitions toward high-density polyethylene (HDPE) due to its enhanced durability in extreme, tough, high-use environments. These days, you can't underestimate the sanitary value—a good power wash will remove just about any type of graffiti on partitions like these."
With regular cleaning, Scranton Products' full line of HDPE partitions also reduce regular maintenance and long-term replacement costs given that general soiling can be easily removed with mild cleansers and water.
Nicholson reflected on the demanding criteria used for the arena makeover. "This is a state-of-the-art facility designed to meet the recreational and sports needs of the college and community with breathtaking results." He said every product choice has gone through rigorous scrutiny for durability and visual appeal.
Reese added, "Our expectation for the Scranton Products partitions is that they will perform as well and look as good in year ten as they did in year one, which will make them a very good investment for this university."
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