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Thrillerdome 2.0

Feb. 7, 2011

By Matt Winkeljohn

Sting Daily

There may never be a better opportunity to learn ahead of time what Georgia Tech’s new basketball arena will look like – inside and out – than when Director of Athletics Dan Radakovich, architects and contractors meet next Tuesday with fans.

“Thrillerdome 2.0,” a three-hour gathering Feb. 15 from 6-9 p.m. (cost $15) at the Alumni House on North Ave., will give fans a chance to ask questions regarding the transition from Alexander Memorial Coliseum to the Hank McCamish Pavilion.

Construction is to begin shortly after the current basketball season ends, and David Cole, a former Tech player, has been a driving force behind this gathering. “We started this through the Georgia Tech business network,” Cole said. “I contacted Dan through the Alumni Association, thinking he’d be pretty busy, but he got back to me in two hours.

“It’s a brick-and-mortar event to discuss his vision of the transition from Alexander Memorial Coliseum to McCamish Pavilion. For us, it is a landmark for the north side of our campus, the first thing you’re going to see coming down 75/85. It’s needed a little brightening up.”

With a $15 million pledge toward the project from Hank McCamish, this project is to be finished in time for the Yellow Jackets to play the 2012-13 season there after splitting next season’s home games between Philips Arena and Gwinnett Arena. Once finished, McCamish will retain some of the nuances of AMC – including the dome-like roof – yet take on some new perspectives.

“The skyboxes are so far back [now],” Cole said. “When you go out and get your hot dog you’ll be able to see the game. That’s what Dan is going to share, his vision, the appearance of the building.”

Representatives from Populus, the Kansas City-based architecture firm that has designed McCamish, will be in attendance, and so will those from Whiting-Turner, the same contractor that build the Tech Nanotechnology building.

“We’ll talk about the challenges of enhancing a 50-year-old facility,” Cole said. “The floor will be restored to the height it was at before it was lowered before the [1996] Olympics. That brings the game closer to the seats.

“Trevor Pitt, a civil engineer with Whiting-Turner, will coordinate all the construction. He will share the construction challenges.”

Cole, a member of Bobby Cremins’ first Tech team in ’81-’82, said there is likely to be informal conversation about what will become of Cremins floor, and even the present seats in AMC – about what can and what cannot be saved from the present arena.

“Maybe we’ll auction off pieces,” he said. “We’ll have an open bar, and this will be a great opportunity to talk. We’ll keep it light. We’re not going to talk about seating costs and the like, and how we’re going to see the game differently.” For more information on Thrillerdome 2.0, contact David Cole at 770 757-5593.

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