College Sports: Kennedy sees commitment, ‘something special’ in A&M investing $6.5 million in arena renovations

While most of Texas A&M’s students were away for the summer, construction crews have been busy in and around Reed Arena.

In addition to installing groundbreaking true high-definition video screens inside the home of A&M’s basketball teams and volleyball team, the men’s basketball locker room at the Cox-McFerrin Center is in the process of a complete makeover.

Between the two projects, A&M has spent a little more than $6.5 million on the recent renovations, according to contracts obtained by The Dallas Morning News through an open records requests. To A&M men’s basketball coach Billy Kennedy, it’s a sign of the administration’s commitment to building a top program.

“They realized we can be a program that’s here and competes year-in and year-out for a championship,” Kennedy said on Monday. “That’s what we’ve been trying to get to and not just be a one-hit wonder.”

In 2016, the Aggies won a share of the SEC regular season conference championship and reached the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA tournament, A&M’s first appearance since 2007. Last year, after four of the five starters from the ’16 team graduated, the Aggies failed to reach the NCAA tournament.

According to records released by the university, the locker room project will cost roughly $2.55 million. In May, The News reported A&M spent $3.9 million in replacing outdated video boards inside the multi-use facility.

The home of the men’s basketball team was torn up completely in an effort to be maximized. Along with new technology, the Aggies will receive an upgraded players’ lounge, a larger nutritional area and a revamped film room.

The project is expected to be completed in time for the start of the 2017-18 season. The team is returning several key pieces from last year’s team and should be a popular pick to return to the NCAA tournament.

This year’s squad will be playing (and changing) in spaces that look much different than they did when assistant athletic director Peter Warden was a student manager for the team. Warden, an ’05 A&M alum and member of Kennedy’s staff, said the upgrades to Reed Arena will enhance the fan experience.

“To get what we’re getting in here, I couldn’t be more excited about it,” Warden said. “I think everybody will have a lot of fun when they come for games this year.”

Kennedy hopes the improvements will be a big selling point to recruits looking for a place to play before making the jump to the pros.

“When we get kids on campus and they can see our facilities as well as our other sports’ facilities, they see the commitment to the athletic department,” Kennedy said. “They recognize you can win big here and do special things here. You don’t have to go to a ‘basketball school’ to get to where you want to get to.”

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