The Magazine for Alumni and Friends of the University of Wyoming
University of Wyoming
1000 East University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071-2000
By Micaela Myers
One look at the polished floors of the university’s Arena-Auditorium (AA) brings back action-packed memories for men's and women's basketball fans. The thump of the ball and the squeak of athletic shoes as UW greats worked their magic seem to echo throughout the grand “Dome of Doom.”
In hope of recruiting future stars—and providing current students and fans with up-to-date facilities—the venerable AA, originally built in 1982, is undergoing a two-phase, $30 million renovation. “We felt like after 30 years it needed a little facelift,” explains Kevin McKinney, senior associate athletics director for external operations at University of Wyoming. “As I travel around the country, I see we’re falling behind, especially when it comes to technology, such as video boards, lighting and sound.”
Phase one, which wraps up in October 2014, focuses on the interior, including technological upgrades such as HD video and ribbon boards, improved lighting and sound, state-of-the-art locker rooms, a cutting-edge sports medicine center, new weight and conditioning areas named for Theo Ratliff (’95), and a reconfigured floor to allow for two cross-courts. Phase two will include new entranceways and concourse, plus new hall of fame, club, concessions, restrooms and ticket office areas.
“Having one court to practice on is a little bit tough when you have 16 guys on the court,” says team forward Larry Nance Jr., a senior criminal justice major at UW. “The new courts will mean extra running for us, and we can get in better condition and use the altitude to our advantage.”
Space in the weight room is also tight. “In the weight room we can only fit five guys at once because it’s very limited space and limited machinery,” Nance says. “With the more expansive weight room, I’m sure Coach will turn it up a little bit.
“What I’m personally most excited for are the training room cold tubs,” he adds. “After a practice or a conditioning session when your legs are all beat up, it will be nice to get into a cold tub and rejuvenate them.”
The state, fans and former athletes have rallied around the renovation efforts, with 36 private donors contributing, including Cheyenne businessman Maury Brown’s donation to secure naming rights to the court—Maury Brown Court—and the McMurry Foundation making a generous gift to fund the new Club Area.
“It’s awesome to know that so many people care about this program and want to see us excel,” Nance says.
“I think the AA has been a source of pride for the university and for the state through the years, and people love coming here,” McKinney says. “The upgrades should enhance recruiting and attract more people to our games.”
For many athletes, the cost of attending school wouldn’t be possible without assistance. That’s where the Cowboy Joe Club comes in, working tirelessly since 1970 to help student-athletes pursue a top-notch education and the sport they love. “Our mission is to provide financial support for scholarships and resources for all of our student-athletes here at UW,” says Randy Welniak, senior associate athletics director.
That assistance is long remembered by former students such as Malcom Floyd (’04), now a wide receiver for the San Diego Chargers. “UW has played a huge role in my success,” he says. “The best way to show my gratitude is to give back and enter the Scholarship Circle to help encourage those who share the same dream reach their goals.”
The Scholarship Circle program matches donors with a current student in need of scholarship support. Other innovative fundraisers include a golf series, yearly auction, Steer-A-Year program and the annual fund, featuring membership perks such as priority seating and parking.
“It’s an opportunity for our fans to be part of our organization and part of the club that helps student-athletes,” Welniak says. “They want to see student-athletes get a great opportunity to succeed here, both academically and on the field or court.”
For more information, visit cowboyjoeclub.com.