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UC San Diego Renovating Sports Arena As It Readies For NCAA Division I

A look inside UC San Diego's RIMAC Arena during renovations, July 26, 2018.

Credit: Matt Hoffman/KPBS

Above: A look inside UC San Diego's RIMAC Arena during renovations, July 26, 2018.

New seats, suite boxes, and a big-screen TV are part of an NCAA Division I makeover for UC San Diego's RIMAC Arena. Athletic department staff are hoping renovations increase student and alumni engagement in sports.

The upgrade includes tripling the size of suite boxes.

"We’ll be having a lot of our functions (in the suites) with alumni and others," said UCSD's Director of Athletics Earl Edwards. "Between the new facility, the scoreboard, the reception area — alumni will look forward to coming to UC San Diego basketball and volleyball contests."

Work on the arena was started in June and engineers hope to have renovations done in time for the Triton’s volleyball season in September.

The arena upgrades are being led by a former UCSD student and athlete.

RELATED: UC San Diego Announces Move Up To NCAA Division I

"This is a dream job for me," said Turner Project Manager Brett Stuckey. "Going to school here, studying structural engineering, graduating in 2009 — being able to come back and build the new face-lift for the arena that I got to play in that’s the best that you could hope for."

Stuckey played on the UCSD men's basketball team from 2006 to 2009 and said renovations will change the game day experience.

"With this new upgrade they’re going to pull out the bleachers for every game," Stuckey said. "So the players will get this full-on arena and stadium experience every single game. Whereas when I was here it was just the two sides were pulled out."

RELATED: UC San Diego Students Approve Move To Division I

Although basketball won’t transition to NCAA Division I until 2020, recruitment is already underway.

"I just think it opens up doors throughout California obviously and throughout the country," said UCSD's Women's Basketball Coach Heidi VanDerveer. "When you add the scholarship component when you add the division one component."

In moving to Division I, the university is planning on hiring more athletic staff and plans to upgrade training facilities soon.

The upgrade for the arena comes as the university is looking to increase interest in sports.

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