LA JOLLA, Calif. -- UC San Diego’s complete transition to NCAA Division I athletics doesn’t officially take place until Summer 2020. However its physical transformation has already begun.
RIMAC Arena, the Triton athletic program’s centerpiece facility, is undergoing the first significant renovation in its nearly 24-year existence. The project will modernize the arena, improve training and competition facilities for Triton student-athletes and provide fans with a first-class live event experience.
“This is an incredibly transformative time for UC San Diego and the Triton athletics program,” said Earl Edwards, UC San Diego’s director of athletics. “The modernization and renovation of RIMAC Arena is another positive step toward providing our student-athletes, fans and community with first-class facilities that are in step with the positive direction of the University. We expect current facility upgrades to serve our program well as we address the excitement and challenges associated with the transition to Division I athletics.”
Designed by architectural firm NBBJ and constructed by Turner Construction Company, the renovation includes new retractable seating, modern glass railings, a VIP skybox that will accommodate approximately 125 guests and new Spaulding basket standards. The arena’s most noticeable new features will be the addition of a 50’ wide Daktronics digital video display and scoreboard that will span the facility’s south end as well as state-of-the-art courtside LED scorer’s tables.
The project also includes the construction of a video production facility that will be capable of producing live event broadcasts for a variety of streaming and broadcast partners, including the Big West Conference’s current broadcast partner, ESPN, once the Tritons become full members of the league.
RIMAC Arena opened in January 1995 as part of the RIMAC Complex that includes Triton Soccer Stadium, Triton Softball Field, intramural and club sports fields and RIMAC Annex. Upon its completion, the complex was the largest among NCAA Division III athletic programs.
The Arena accommodates nearly 4,000 fans for Triton basketball and volleyball events and can be expanded to approximately 4,500 for concerts, guest speakers and other similar events that utilize floor seating. Floor space for the 44,000 sq ft arena can be divided into five basketball courts, which have been used in previous years by several National Basketball Association teams for preseason training camps.
Former UC San Diego men’s basketball student-athlete, Brett Stuckey ‘09, serves as the project manager for Turner Construction. The 4-year letterwinner played for the Tritons from 2006-09 and served in a similar capacity for the recent improvements made at Triton Ballpark.
"This is a dream job for me," Stuckey recently told a reporter from television station KPBS. "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."
UC San Diego features 23 intercollegiate sport programs, 22 of which compete at Division I and II levels in six different conferences and associations. A member of the California Collegiate Athletic Association since 2000, the Tritons announced they accepted an invitation from the Big West Conference and will begin competing as a full NCAA Division I member in Fall 2020. UC San Diego athletic programs have claimed 30 national championships at the NCAA Division II and III levels and have finished among the top 10 nationally in the Learfield Director’s Cup in 16 of the last 20 years. More impressively, Triton student-athletes annually graduate at one of the highest rates in the country and have earned 80 Academic All-America honors and 36 prestigious NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarships.