The past two summers have certainly been eventful for the Cincinnati Cyclones organization. In the summer of 2014, the Cyclones entered a new era with rebranding the franchise. Then, earlier on Tuesday afternoon, U.S. Bank Arena and MSA Sport unveiled their plans for the long awaited renovation of Cincinnati’s Indoor Downtown Arena. Inspired by the recent major events held in Cincinnati, like the MLB All Star Game, and World Choir Games, Nederlander Entertainment (the company who owns both the Cincinnati Cyclones and U.S. Bank Arena) decided that “it’s time.” As the modernization of Downtown Cincinnati is ongoing, more and more does the run-down U.S. Bank Arena look outdated.
From U.S. Bank Arena’s Official Release:
“Cincinnati has proven that it can successfully host major events, including the MLB All-Star Game and the 2012 World Choir Games, but we know we need to improve our major indoor sports and entertainment venue to continue to be competitive for major events and national acts,” said Ray Harris, CEO of Nederlander Entertainment, which owns U.S. Bank Arena in partnership with AEG. “We’re confident this vision for a new and dramatically upgraded U.S. Bank Arena, when implemented, will give us the ability to compete for and deliver major events on a consistent basis. This is a critical component of our community’s economic development.”
Included in such renovations will be…
- The new design allows multiple points of entry, making the arena more accessible from all directions.
- A completely new façade incorporating highly sustainable contemporary materials
- A continuous walkable concourse around the arena’s base will connect the plaza level to the riverfront and The Banks.
- The total number of seats will be increased to approximately 18,500, including as many as 1,750 club seats.
- A new suite level, closer to the stage, will allow for 40 to 60 suites, depending on the final configuration, with the opportunity for additional suites to be added on other levels. The need for additional suites at U.S. Bank Arena was a key factor in Cincinnati losing its bid to host to the 2016 Republican National Convention.
- Added and modernized locker room facilities will provide infrastructure key to attracting a variety of collegiate sports programming including NCAA Championship events such as regional men’s basketball tournaments.
- Multiple and wider concourses that will enhance access and improve safety while providing the ability to introduce new and state of the art improved customer amenities and other services.
- Greatly enhanced vertical circulation (escalators and added elevators) to provide convenient access to all levels.
- New exterior video boards and freestanding video signage elements that will enhance the opportunities for branding and promotion.
- Large open volumes of space that creates exciting multi-level spaces and views.
This is certainly huge news for the City of Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Cyclones, and U.S. Bank Arena. The arena opened in 1975, is 40 years old, and this is the first major project that will be done on the building. However, a lot of questions are still in the air. When will the renovations take place? What effect will it have on the Cyclones? Will they need to vacate the arena while renovations are being done? Will they be able to still use the arena while it’s all being done?
The answer is we simply do not know at this point. When I contacted team personnel for comment, no such comment could be given as no plan is set in stone yet. All that we know is what the finished product will look like when all is said and done.
As for it effecting the Cyclones. If they indeed are unable to use the arena while the renovations are being done, there a couple options:
A: Move to a temporary rink such as the birthplace of hockey in Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Gardens for a season
B: Go dark and sit idle for a season if all else fails
Another question that rises purely out of speculation: Could these renovations warrant the return of the American Hockey League to Cincinnati? With all the talks of NHL Expansion, that would also mean the AHL and ECHL would have to continue expanding for a perfect alignment. Cincinnati, with a newly renovated venue would most certainly be a candidate for AHL Expansion. The AHL has a history of expanding into pre-existing ECHL markets. For ex: Bakersfield, Ontario, Stockton, and Charlotte. An AHL move would also reunite the Cyclones with their old IHL rivalries such as Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, and Chicago. The AHL hasn’t been in Cincinnati since 2005 when the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks left town.
Keep in mind, this is all speculation, and this is all probably a couple years away from now. But these are very exciting times for Cincinnati. Big things are coming and this is just the beginning.