Wichita State is looking into adding luxury boxes and capacity to Koch Arena, athletic director Eric Sexton confirmed in a statement Tuesday.
Sexton emphasized that the plan is in its early stages and is part of the Wichita State University Foundation capital campaign.
“Part of this vision includes new premium seating opportunities inside Charles Koch Arena … that will slightly increase seating capacity and provide opportunities to generate additional revenues,” Sexton said in the statement. “Further details will be released at a later date as we get closer to finalizing the entire scope of the project.”
Sexton briefed Shocker Athletic Scholarship Organization members on the plan at last month’s regular meeting. Some athletic department personnel knew of the plans for the luxury boxes and a student services building next to Koch Arena. Men’s basketball coach Gregg Marshall made the secret public on his radio show Monday night when he responded to a caller’s question about Koch Arena.
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“I’ve also heard that they’re going to make skyboxes in Koch Arena during this renovation,” he said. “Our facilities are great, but adding skyboxes, that’s the only thing I wish they would have done when they (renovated it in 2003). Having skyboxes gives it a little extra oomph, if you will, for recruiting and corporate dollars.”
Several sources with knowledge of the plans described them as preliminary, dependent on fund-raising, and awaiting engineering and design work to determine the feasibility of the project. One concept discussed features eight to 12 luxury boxes built into the east side of the arena, accessible from existing rooms. The athletic department does not want to lose seats in order to add the boxes.
Koch Arena’s capacity is 10,506 and season tickets are sold out for the first time since the 2006-07 season.
The arena, then known as the WU Field House, opened in 1955 and cost $1.4 million. Kansas played the second game in the arena and legendary Jayhawks coach Phog Allen made a remark that seemed prophetic at times during the building’s history.
“Wichita built a wonderful fieldhouse here, but they made it too small,” he said. “They built it for the present instead of the future.”
Former athletic director Ted Bredehoft explored raising the arena’s roof in the early 1980s before the project was deemed financially prohibitive with a cost of $13 million. In 2002, WSU began a $25 million renovation of Levitt Arena that expanded the concourse, added office, academic and training space and new seats. Koch Arena, complete with ground-level restrooms and new locker rooms and a weight room, opened in 2003.
The athletic department, which has added more than 100 athletes in recent years, needs more office and academic space. With enthusiasm for men’s basketball at a peak, the athletic department is looking for ways to capitalize.
“Wichita State University is committed to improving and enhancing its athletic facilities to maintain national relevance,” Sexton said in the statement. “The components of the campus-wide effort specific to Shocker athletics focuses on facilities intended to enhance the student-athlete experience as well as the fan experience.”