The University of North Carolina basketball program is considering renovating or possibly replacing the Dean Smith Center.
The school's Athletic Director, Bubba Cunningham, would like to add premium seating to the arena. Similar changes were recently made to the football stadium in Chapel Hill to become what is now called the "Blue Zone." Cunningham said the seats may largely pay for themselves.
"The model that's working in football," said Cunningham, "... is we borrowed the money, then we sold the seat rights to the Blue Zone and suites in 3, 5, and 10 year increments. In addition to that, we had some gifts for the project. So it would likely be a similar financial model."
Cunningham said any renovations to the Smith Center would take student seating into consideration.
"We would go into a project trying to make it a better building for everybody," said Cunningham. "And until you go through all of the iterations or options, you're not sure what it would look like or what it would mean to different constituent groups. But certainly students would be a primary focus of the project."
Cunningham says talks are still preliminary, but hopes to have more serious discussions about the changes this spring. The Dean Smith Center opened in 1986 and has a capacity of more than 21,000.