Daniel-Meyer puts TCU at disadvantage in Big 12

Posted Monday, Jan. 16, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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By the numbers

1961Year Daniel-Meyer Coliseum opened. The building was designed by Fort Worth architect Joe Pelich, whose design was inspired by facilities at Wichita State and Maryland.

$1.45Cost, in millions, to build Daniel-Meyer

7,201Seating capacity of Daniel-Meyer, which will easily be the smallest basketball facility in the Big 12

3,083Difference in capacity between Daniel-Meyer and the Big 12's smallest current basketball facility, Baylor's Ferrell Center

16,734Seating capacity of Texas' Frank Erwin Center, the Big 12's largest basketball facility

When TCU joins the Big 12 next season, its basketball arena will be the smallest in the conference. Does the university need to pony up for improvements?

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When TCU moves to the Big 12 in July, its football facilities will take a back seat to none. The $164 million renovations to Amon G. Carter Stadium will give the Horned Frogs the newest, slickest digs in the conference. An 18,000-square-foot weight room opened last fall, and expanded locker rooms, training rooms and equipment rooms will be ready this summer.

Even Lupton Stadium, TCU's baseball park, which has undergone several major renovations since opening in 2003, is on par with most Big 12 stadiums.

Then there's Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, which celebrated its 50th birthday last month. Not only will the 7,201-seat arena be the smallest basketball venue in the Big 12, but it will also be the third-oldest.

The oldest arenas -- Kansas' Allen Fieldhouse (1955) and Oklahoma State's Gallagher-Iba Arena (1938) -- have been expanded and renovated multiple times. Oklahoma State's $55 million renovation in 2000 doubled the capacity and added 14 luxury suites.

Even TCU's neighbors such as North Texas and UT Arlington have bigger and newer basketball arenas. UTA's $78 million College Park Center will seat 7,000 for Mavericks basketball games.

Dallas ISD has two arenas -- Ellis Davis Fieldhouse (7,500) and Loos Field House (7,600) -- with larger capacities than Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.

It's not that the "DMC" is falling apart or a bad place to watch a game. Quite the contrary. A $1.5 million scoreboard, LED baseline boards and a $300,000 sound system have been added in the last few years. Better lighting, a new floor and $200,000 for 4,500 chairs have been installed in the last year. TCU plans to have all of the venue's seats replaced by next fall.

But is it enough? Not hardly. And TCU athletic officials, including men's coach Jim Christian, know something needs to be done. Christian has let it be known to athletic administrators that upgrades are desperately needed, even before it was announced in 2010 that TCU was moving to the basketball powerhouse Big East Conference, a move later canceled in favor of the Big 12.

"You have to be a basketball school on one day a year and that's selection Sunday," Christian said. "Regardless of how emphasized other sports are, on that one day, if you get into that big tournament, you're a basketball school. That's all you can worry about. The good thing is you see the passion of your fan base [with football] and I don't think it changes if those other sports are successful."

Recruits want to be impressed. The free $175,000 education might be hard for an 18-year-old to comprehend. But a whirlpool tub and a sauna in the training room, a 60-inch television in the players-only lounge, and a filled to the brim arena that could pass for an NBA-level experience? Top recruits understand those perks.

"We're well aware that Daniel-Meyer is showing its age," TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte said. "We're working on addressing those deficiencies in the near future."

That includes getting preliminary assessments and ideas from architects at HKS, the firm that designed Amon G. Carter's renovations, on what could be done to spiff up Daniel-Meyer and make it more in tune with the blooming structures sprouting all around it. Some early ideas include widening the concourse by adding a ring around the arena and moving the concession stands from the inside of the concourse to the outside to help traffic flow. Of course, cost is a concern, and TCU boosters who helped contribute more than 80 percent toward the football stadium renovations might be maxed out.

In 2004, TCU trustee Ed Schollmaier and his wife Rae donated $1.5 million toward the $5.8 million complex that bears their name and houses practice courts and basketball offices. Trouble is, most other TCU boosters have been much quicker to donate for football-related upgrades than other sports.

Del Conte, who was hired in the fall of 2009 chiefly for his fundraising skills, helped secure the money for the football renovations in less than six months. He declined to specify what he envisions for Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, but he knows it's not fair to his basketball coaches who must recruit against Big 12 schools with basketball shrines on their campuses.

"I've done nothing but research all the Big 12 schools -- what they have, what they don't have," Del Conte said. "I'm trying to make sure TCU has the very best facilities for our kids to compete for championships. My job is to make sure our coaches and students have the tools necessary to compete at the highest level."

Finally there's the chicken and the egg question: What comes first? Top-notch facilities to attract recruits that results in winning? Or does the winning beget the upgrades, the state of the art facilities and the financial commitments necessary to sustain a winning program?

TCU guard Hank Thorns, who played his freshman year at Virginia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference, thinks it's a little of both.

"You take a kid like [Plano Prestonwood's nationally rated recruit] Julius Randle," Thorns said. "If he goes to visit the University of Texas and looks at their arena and then looks at ours, theirs is probably blowing ours out of the water.

"Those things matter to players. You want to feel like you're on a professional level, and that matters. But if you win games it doesn't matter what arena you have, it'll get packed. Duke doesn't have the prettiest arena; it's like a little church."

Stefan Stevenson

817-390-7760

Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs

Little house in the Big 12

TCU's Daniel-Meyer Coliseum will be the smallest and least impressive basketball venue in the Big 12. Here's a look at how TCU compares with the rest of the league, including West Virginia, which is expected to join, along with the Horned Frogs, July 1:

School

Arena

Opened

Cost (millions)

Capacity

Baylor

Ferrell Center

1988

$12.5

10,284

2006 upgrade included an $8 million practice facility, offices, reception room, and VIP area.

Iowa State

Hilton Coliseum

1971

$8.15

14,356

$35 million practice facility and $25 million arena renovations including suites, concessions upgrades and wider concourses are pending necessary funding.

Kansas

Allen Fieldhouse

1955

$2.5

16,300

Numerous renovations, including a $7.8 million upgrade in 2009, include improved restrooms, concessions, larger and more accessible entryways and a wider concourse.

Cool tidbit: The original concourse was an indoor track.

Kansas State

Bramlage Coliseum

1988

$17.2

12,528

Funded primarily from $7 million in student fees and $7 million in contributions. Renovations in 2007 included premium loge box seating.

Oklahoma

Lloyd Noble Center

1975

NA

12,000

$17.1 million renovations in 2001: practice courts, offices, training rooms, locker rooms.

Oklahoma State

Gallagher-Iba Arena

1938

$1.5

13,611

Massive $55 million renovations in 2000 doubled seating. 14 luxury suites that also overlook the football field. 2010 renovations included new locker rooms and lounges.

TCU

Daniel-Meyer Coliseum

1961

$1.45

7,201

Named after Milton Daniel, a former chairman of the Board of Trustees, and Dutch Meyer, the legendary TCU football and basketball coach. The Frogs beat Centenary 63-61 in the first game played in the venue on Dec. 18, 1961. TCU went 5-19 that year.

Texas

Frank Erwin Center

1977

$34

16,734

$55 million renovations in 2001 included new concession stands, restrooms and 28 suites.

Texas Tech

United Spirit Arena

1999

$62.8

15,098

Includes 24 luxury suites and houses 19 offices and practice floor.

West Virginia

WVU Coliseum

1970

$10.4

14,000

2004 renovations included upgraded locker rooms and player lounge. The concrete roof was designed to cup the ceiling so crowd noise is directed to the floor. The first event held at the coliseum was a Grand Funk Railroad concert.

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