New seats bring renovation one step closer

Wes Watt

Hilltopper athletics have been looking to put butts in the seats at basketball games for years. Now those butts will rest a little more comfortably.

The nearly 8,000 seats in Diddle Arena are being replaced this week as the building nears the end of its two-year renovation.

The old seats were more than 40 years old.

“The appearance will be better and the seats will be softer,” said Craig Biggs, associate athletic director for facilities.

In order to pick out the new seats, a committee was formed that consists of members of the Hilltopper Athletic Foundation, faculty and staff members, and fans in the community.

The committee looked at several models from different companies. It settled with Irwin Seating Co. of Michigan because it had the model best suited for the arena.

Most of the seats will be covered in some way to help make them more comfortable for the fans, unlike the old seats.

“The old seats were old, hard and wooden,” Biggs said.

The installation will begin sometime this week and is scheduled to be completed by October 31. The seats will cost about $1 million and they’re part of the last phase of the $32.5 million renovation.

The floor has also been replaced recently with a state-of-the-art shock absorption surface which is supposed to cut down on injuries.

The new seats will be covered with either leather or cloth. And each will have a cup holder attached.

To help pay for the cost of the new seats, season ticket holders will be expected to give a larger donation to buy a seat. Biggs said regular ticket prices might also be changed.

Season ticket holders may also be affected by where their new seat might be located. While the majority of fans will not be affected by the addition, some people will if their seat moves in the renovation. If that happens, there will be a designated time to pick out their new seat.

The old seats have already been installed in the Agricultural Exposition Center on the university farm.

Students wondering what will happen to the student section need not worry.

“The students will have chair seats,” Biggs said. “One end zone all the way to the top will be students.”

Women’s basketball coach Mary Taylor Cowles said she is very pleased with the new seating and that it’s just another step that shows Western’s commitment to athletics.

“Obviously, that’s just one more step in the right direction,” Cowles said. “It will add to how nice and grand Diddle Arena is. We are very fortunate to have it.”

Reach Wes Watt at [email protected]