With one of the most-historic arenas in the Southern Professional Hockey League, the Knoxville Ice Bears have created one of the league’s best-atmospheres every year. With an average attendance of 3,818 fans this season (second-best in the SPHL), the team continues to create a true hockey presence.
Today, officially, they get a huge boost to arena atmosphere that gives their home modern amenities to match the fan intensity. From information initially-acquired by Bus League Hockey over a month ago from a source close to the situation, we can officially give details today of what’s coming to the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum.
City of Knoxville Chief Deputy of Operations Chip Barry formally sent out a Press Release today informing the media on what renovation and work will be done to the KCAC.
“The final phase of the $10 million renovation project at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum begins April 29, with an expected completion by late October 2019,” stated the opening paragraph, “KCAC first opened in 1961 and includes the 6,500-capacity Coliseum and the 2,500-capacity Auditorium.”
Phase One of the renovation project began in the Summer of 2018, and included repainting, a new fire alarm system, a new HVAC system, and new LED sport lighting (for turning lights on-and-off in arena in an instant, for goal celebrations, etc).
What is most exciting now though, is the promises of Phase Two, set to begin a week from today, which includes:
- Replacement of a second HVAC unit;
- Improvement of the roof drain system;
- Power upgrades to meet the needs of larger performances;
- Replacement of the original 1961 ice floor;
- Installation of new dashers with wide-view acrylic glass;
- Upgrades to restrooms, adding up to 75 new fixtures; and
- Installation of a center-hung, four-sided video panel system and scoreboard.
This final point being the most enticing and exciting news for fans of the Knoxville Ice Bears. In the 2018-2019 season, Pensacola, Macon, and Knoxville were the only buildings in the league without a video scoreboard or video boards of any kind (Fayetteville added their Daktronics four-sided video board in the Summer of 2018).
“[We] couldn’t be more excited about this news! As you are aware, this building is 58 years old and has little-to-no upgrades done to it in that time,” said Matt Murray, Owner and GM of the Ice Bears “I am very proud of the fact that we are second in league attendance without any of the attributes the others have, thus looking forward to having these new toys which to enhance not only our in game entertainment, but the ability to have replays and visually expose our players to the fans more-so.”
Now, Knoxville fans get opened up to the wealth of content and ease of information that comes with having a State-of-the-Art board, and the organization is presented to a whole new world of corporate sales that can be acquired with the use of an eye-catching HD screen.
Knoxville’s arena has long been plagued (and any broadcaster in the league can tell you) by lack of scoreboard-sight or ability to quickly and easily see time and score.
Being an older arena, this was never a huge priority or deal. Now with these necessary-but-definitely-luxurious upgrades to the downtown barn, Knoxville should have a serious contention in creating an even more impressive game day atmosphere.
The Coliseum will be shutdown throughout the summer to properly renovate, and will open back up in September, per the press release.
This is a huge deal for the City of Knoxville, the Knoxville Ice Bears organization, and for fans of the Bears and teams who come in. We look forward to seeing the “old barn” come to life all-anew with their video board.
Bus League Hockey has reached out to the Knoxville Ice Bears for comment on the coming additions to the arena, but had no yet received a response back as of publishing. This story will be updated if/when they do.
Below is link to the entire release, detailing all of the updates going on around the facility.