Arena Auditorium Renovations Frustrate Some Fans

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Laramie, WY (KGWN)- The Arena Auditorium opened in 1982, replacing the War Memorial Field House as the home of men's and women's basketball at the University of Wyoming.

Starting March 12, 2014 the Double A is set to receive a $30 million facelift, something Athletic Director Tom Burman believes is crucial to the success of the school's athletic programs.

"At Wyoming we need to have facilities, it's important for us to be able to recruit that we have quality facilities," Burman said.

The two phase renovations will update locker rooms, and weight training facilities, upgrade the exterior facade of the building and establish a hall of fame.

"Our recruiting will improve because the back of house infrastructure, locker rooms, team rooms, video area will all be state of the art, first class," Burman said.

Besides the actual multimillion dollar price tag, the University of Wyoming may find the project comes with other costs as well.

Jeff Jones and his family have held season tickets for basketball since the year the Arena Auditorium opened, but the family of five are now having second thoughts.

"What they've requested is a $250 per seat right so that you can buy season tickets," Jones said.

What Jones is talking about is a mandatory donation, required by purchasers to buy season tickets.

The cost is dependent on where in the arena the seats are located, from $5,000 per seat for courtside seats to men's basketball down to $100 per account for women's basketball.

"It came quite as a shock to us," Jones said. "Four seats that we have, that would be an extra thousand dollars a year, just for the rights to buy season tickets."

The inflated cost of ownership has forced Jones and his family to make the tough decision to no longer purchase season tickets.

The mandatory donations are only required once.

So, if fans purchase football and basketball season tickets, they would only be required to make that donation one time.

To clarify, season tickets for basketball and football would be, the donation + cost of basketball tickets + cost of football tickets.

The mandatory donation isn't the only thing fans are frustrated about.

The court will be shifted as part of the renovations to increase the amount of usable practice space.

Sections will shift along with the court, meaning seats will no longer be in the same place when the renovations are done, resulting in a mandatory reseating process.

"I hate to give up my good seats, (to) have to give up my good seats for the basketball teams," said Arnie Willems, a season ticket holder for more than 30 years.

Season ticket holders will be able to pick new seats at the refurbished Arena Auditorium based on the Poke Priority Point System.

Points are awarded based on loyalty which equates to dollars spent, or total number of season tickets purchased.

The ability to purchase loyalty points concerns Burman.

"I do worry about that a little bit," Burman said. "One of the things we're doing is, lets say you've been a longtime season ticket holder for men's basketball but you haven't been a Cowboy Joe donor, we're gonna give you priority points.

"Cowboy Joe will give you Priority Points every year you've been a season ticket holder. So those will add up pretty quick.

"It would take a lot of money for someone to come in here and write a check and be able to go midcourt if they've never done anything before."

"But I can't say I wouldn't take the money," Burman said.

It is this emphasis on money that concerns fans like Arnie Willems,

"I think there are a lot of diehard fans that I find may be finding it difficult to pay the prices that they're going to have to pay."

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