SEC commissioner Greg Sankey in the KMOX studio

(KMOX)

SEC Commish Impressed With 'Enormous' Progress Made At Scottrade Center

Before he takes in a Blues game, Greg Sankey stopped by the KMOX studio

February 08, 2018 - 3:21 pm
Categories: 

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Before the $150 million renovation plan was even in it's infancy, the SEC looked at it's newly acquired state in 2011 and said they had to bring Missouri fully into "SEC Country." Within 12 months commissioner Greg Sankey says the planning began for St. Louis to host an SEC Men's Basketball Championship Tournament. Then in 2014 the announcment was made, it was coming to the 23-year-old Scottrade Center. 

Sankey says when he first heard the renovation plans, it was "very, very, very good news." Because Scottrade was very, very, very outdated – so old that the lighting system still ran on Windows 95. 

Related story: Bettman: Not If, It's When St. Louis Will Get An NHL All-Star Game

Now, the first phase of renovations has been completed, with two more phases to come in the 2018 and 2019 NHL offseasons. Last summer, there was a new ice plant installed under the event floor, which replaced a system that was rusted, unreliable and original to Scottrade in 1994.

The more noticable amenities are a new videoboard, a new sound system and state-of-the-art lighting. The main home and away locker rooms were updated and new locker rooms were created, like ones that will be used by multiple teams during March 7-11, for the SEC tournament.  They are now "up to NCAA specifications,” said St. Louis Blues president Chris Zimmerman in May of last year. 

By the end of phase three, Zimmerman says, "about 90 percent" of Scottrade Center will be new. Next off-season the Blues plan to upgrade the escalators and improve the elevators, including adding another bank. They’ll also change the main entrance to the building along Clark Street by expanding dining and retail options. An upgrade of the building’s security systems are also planned.

Sankey first witnessed the new arena at the annual Braggin' Rights Game between Mizzou and Illinois basketball. 

"The atmosphere for the Illinois, Missouri game was college basketball, that was a college basketball feel," Sankey says. "A growth experience for (Mizzou, on the court) and what it did show was the improvements in the arena are meaningful, the scoreboard update and the passion of the fans was great to see. And we look forward to seeing that in a few weeks."  

Tickets to the SEC tournament have already topped last year's tournament in Nashville, Sankey says, with more planning to be made available exclusively to St. Louis area residents. The ticket sales, plus the arena renovations have made an impression on Sankey. 

"It says Missouri, and St. Louis in particular, is a part of the SEC," Sankey says. "And one of our commitments is this men's basketball tournament." 

He says part of what makes the SEC great is its venues. New arenas opened recently at Auburn and Ole Miss and major remodels in Flordia and Georgia were just completed. Columbia features a new softball facility, which is why this year's SEC Softball Championship Tournament will be host by Mizzou.

Before the SEC tournament March 7-11 Scottrade Center will also the Missouri Valley Tournament, March 1-4. 

And joining Sankey at tonight's visit to Scottrade Center is NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who will be looking at the facility as a possible host of the 2020 or 2021 NHL All-Star Game.