The Wildcats' new arena features several dramatic changes among a host of enhancements.
Northwestern will officially unveil the new Welsh-Ryan Arena on Friday during an exhibition game against McKendree, but The Chicago Tribune was given a sneak peak Friday morning.
The arena underwent a 20-month, $110 million renovation that resulted in increased ammenities, decreased seating and major changes to the facility's features.
It's high-tech with an old-school feel, intimately designed so everyone feels close to the action—something coach Chris Collins, a former Duke player and coach, wanted after his time at Cameron Indoor Arena, according to the Tribune.
The new arena features just 7,039 seats, the smallest capacity of any Big Ten arena. The old Welsh-Ryan held 8,117 seats.
“We wanted the appearance of everybody being on top of the action, to have that ‘pit’ feeling," Northwestern men's basketball coach Chris Collins told the Chicago Tribune. "Every seat has a great vantage point. It should be very loud. We wanted all the bells and whistles but we also want it to feel like a tough road environment."
The arena also added more lobby space, additional concessions stands and restrooms, along with improved seating and a host of new screens throughout the rest of arena. A new locker room boasts a lounge/gaming center, kitchen and individual showers for players.
For years the most significant enhancement at Northwestern's Welsh-Ryan Arena was a rolling coat rack. Behold … the future!— ChicagoSports (@ChicagoSports) November 2, 2018
And now, after a privately funded 20-month renovation that cost $110 million?
Take a tour.https://t.co/codVmUgtbi via @TeddyGreenstein pic.twitter.com/b2XOKG8q6U
The Wildcats open the 2018 season on Thursday, Nov. 8 against New Orleans. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. ET.