Just call it the summer of love for the Owensboro Sportscenter.
Taking advantage of a period of inactivity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, renovations are ongoing at the venerable 71-year-old multipurpose facility that has meant so much to so many for so long.
“We wanted to take a building that’s over 70 years old and give it some love,” said Laura Alexander, general manager for Spectra, venue management for the Sportscenter and Owensboro Convention Center.
“At the same time, we want to maintain the character, the historic component of the Sportscenter. We want to modernize it where we can.”
Among this year’s renovations — showcased during a media tour June 19 — has been the removal of the permanent stage at one end of the facility.
“The old stage wasn’t stable, and we need a bigger stage for concerts and other events,” Alexander said. “When we need a stage, we can bring in a portable stage with a ramp that is ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990) accessible.
“And the area itself (55-by-25 feet) can be used in other ways, possibly as an extra concession stand, or as an area where merchandise can be sold.”
In addition, adjacent to the stage area is a newly-created storage area access — formerly a coaches office for Owensboro Catholic High School boys’ basketball — that leads directly to the floor. The Aces’ former locker room, meanwhile, will be utilized for storage.
The recent inactivity at the Sportscenter also allowed for the concrete floor to be waxed and sealed, and the interior walls also received a fresh coat of paint.
One of the major portions of the current renovation has been putting a new roof over the existing one.
“We’ve done this to stop leakage,” Alexander said. “We’re in a much better position on this now than we were before.”
Meanwhile, adjacent to Gate 4, major improvements have been made to women’s and men’s restrooms, which heretofore had received little attention over the past seven decades.
“These restrooms are much, much better than they were,” Alexander said. “They don’t even resemble what was in place before the renovations.”
Alexander said the cost of the stage and restroom improvements is about $95,000.
Ongoing is a renovation of the parking lot that serves both the Sportscenter and the Edge Ice Center, which will increase the number of parking spots from 782 to 960. Moreover, there will be no more angle parking. This phase of the renovation is expected to be completed by late August.
In addition, Alexander showcased significant improvements made to the Sportscenter last year, which included renovation of the facility’s hospitality room and LED lighting above the arena floor.
“We just wanted a nice, clean look for the hospitality room,” Alexander said. “It needed a fresh makeover.
“The LED lighting brightens the floor and the whole atmosphere in general. We can now dim the lighting, and we can turn them off and on without them having to warm up — this allows for elaborate pregame introductions and presentations with no delay.”
The 5,002-seat Sportscenter opened in 1949 and has undergone a series of renovations in its storied history.
It’s the current home venue for Kentucky Wesleyan College and Owensboro Catholic High School basketball, and over the past decade has been annual host to the 3rd Region Basketball Tournament. It also has the been home arena for various minor league professional basketball teams through the years.