Kansas and Kansas State fans will notice several Ford Center renovations when they watch NCAA Tournament games Thursday and Saturday. Since the Jayhawks and Wildcats last played in the Big 12 Tournament last March, the eight-year-old facility has undergone $40 million of renovations, highlighted by a state-of-the-art $3.8 million scoreboard.
Other new additions include 48 terrace suites on each end of the Ford Center, a LED ribbon video board around the arena and new lighting and floor designs in the upper deck. "The feedback at Thunder games has been very positive from the new scoreboard, terrace suites, the concourse and other seats being more comfortable,” said Gary Desjardins, Ford Center general manager. "We achieved what we wanted to achieve.” As part of a 15-month, 1-cent sales tax approved in March 2008 that would raise $120 million — $100 million for Ford Center renovations and $20 million earmarked for a new Thunder practice facility — more renovations are scheduled in the next 18 months. The biggest addition among the final phase of a $50 million project will be a new grand entryway on the southwest corner of the arena near Robinson and I-40. That project will begin with excavation in September and is scheduled to be completed by the spring of 2011. "It will be an iconic entrance to the arena,” said Tom Anderson, Oklahoma City’s special projects manager.