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Florida chooses firm for planned $45M O'Connell Center upgrade

 The O'Connell Center houses several UF sports, including basketball, gymnastics and swimming and diving. Photo: Doug Benc/Getty

The O'Connell Center houses several UF sports, including basketball, gymnastics and swimming and diving.

Correction: A previous version of this post included images from NBBJ, an architectural firm that did not win the O'Connell Center renovation bid. Florida basketball spokesman Denver Parlor told SI.com: "We are holding off on releasing [images of the renovation] until we get further on in the design process, so that they will be a more accurate depiction."

The University of Florida will give its basketball team's home an upgrade next year. The Stephen C. O'Connell Center, better known as the "O'Dome" around the Gainesville Campus, will feature a redone lower bowl seating area with chair-back seats for all fans and other upgrades.

The $45-50 million project will begin after the 2014-15 basketball season and is being handled by the team of Davis Architects, CPPI Construction Management and TLC Engineering.

As is common with modern-day upgrades, O’Connell will also enjoy a hefty modernization of its premium seating with new club seating and lounge space. But the cheap seats will be freshened too, with chair-back seats replacing the lower-bowl benches. And everyone will be able to see a new center-hung high-definition video board that couples with a new sound system.

Throughout the arena, offices, locker rooms, electrical and plumbing will be upgraded.

Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.

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