JAMES A. RHODES ARENA
The men's basketball team has posted a .858 winning percentage (91-15) since the 2004-05 season under eighth-year head coach Keith Dambrot and has not posted a losing home record since the 1995-96 season. The women's squad has posted a .619 winning percentage (26-16) over the last three seasons under sixth-year head coach Jodi Kest, the best three-year home stretch in program history.
During the summer of 2011, the JAR saw the addition of team lounges for the men's and women's basketball programs, as well as a 1,850-foot weight room. The team lounges feature state-of the-art technology, including multi-screen audio/visual equipment for practice and game video analysis, and opponent scouting. The video systems, designed specifically to meet the needs of the Akron basketball programs, will be synchronized with equipment located in the existing coaching staffs' offices to maximize efficiency in video study and game preparation. The weight room will service both basketball programs, as well as the volleyball and women's tennis squads.
Prior to the 2002-03 season, Rhodes Arena received a $1.1 million renovation. The project included the addition of a new playing surface and several fan-based capital improvements.
The first phase of the facelift took place during the summer of 2002 when a new hardwood floor was installed. The cost of the project, which was funded by private donations, was $202,500 and was completed in late August. The new floor replaced a surface that was installed when the facility was built in 1983.
Phase two of the project was one which Zips fans have benefited from most, providing a new state-of-the-art video display and scoreboard system – installed in October 2002.
The centerpiece of the project, called ZIPSvision, features four Opto Tech 7.5' x 10' LED displays which showcase replays of the action on the floor plus other programming before, during and after the game. Opto Tech is one of the industry leaders in large scale video displays, whose sports clients include Major League Baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks, Ohio State University, University of Nebraska, and the Georgia Dome, home of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.
Partial funding for ZIPSvision comes from The University of Akron's 10-year partnership with Pepsi. In exchange for signage, media and pouring rights at UA athletics venues, Pepsi contributed $380,000 to the Rhodes Arena Renovation Project. The balance of the project was generated through the sale of signage, both on ZIPSvision and on courtside media tables.
The Cincinnati Floor Company installed the new floor, which was manufactured by Robbins Sports Surfaces. The company is no stranger to the basketball world, having installed the floor at Indiana University's Assembly Hall and Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena, home of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers.
The new surface also features the school's new logo and word marks, which were unveiled in July 2002.
In fall 2008, new courtside tables with LED display capabilities, were purchased for the venue.
The facility became the new home of The University of Akron's athletics teams on Dec. 3, 1983. Opened prior to the 1983-84 season, the facility gave the Zips basketball and volleyball teams a modern indoor athletics complex.
Rhodes Arena, which seats 5,500 for basketball, was the first phase of a three-part $20.5 million project, which included the $6.5 million Oliver J. Ocasek Natatorium, a $2.5 million renovation of Memorial Hall (demolished in 2010) and completion of the 6,000-square-foot Clifford Skeen Varsity Weight Room, which was located inside Memorial Hall.
The arena is comprised of two floors. In addition to the court, the first level features locker rooms, a sports medicine and training facility, a ticket office, a fan team shop and meeting rooms.
The ground level is also home to the school's hall of fame, which features photos and information on each inductee. The second floor offers a jogging track and four special multi-purpose labs – suitable for archery, golf, badminton and dancing.
The 2,600-square-foot Tommy Evans Memorial Lounge, used for pre- and post-game receptions and department functions, is housed on the south end of the second floor.
The 125,538-square-foot building also includes a $675,000 classroom wing and a $1.3 million office wing that houses the bulk of The University's athletics department staff.
All 5,500 seats in the arena are retractable to facilitate the use of the 18,000-square-foot floor for physical education activities, concerts, conventions and other special events.
Armchair seating is available on the lower level (1,323) and on the west-side upper level (773), while the remaining seats are bleacher style.
Improved locker rooms were added to the Rhodes Arena complex in the fall of 1992. The new team facilities were funded through private contributions to the Zips Athletics Club.
Rhodes Arena plays host to the Cleveland Cavaliers' Wine and Gold intrasquad scrimmage every October, along with the LeBron James Skills Academy (showcase for the nation's best high school players) and the LeBron James King's Academy (youth camp) each summer. The King James Shooting Stars Classic (AAU tournament) is also headquartered on the UA campus each spring.
The men's basketball program hosts the Zips Basketball School, the Offensive Skills Camp and Basketball Elite Workout camps, in addition to a Team Shootout. Under the direction of coach Dambrot and his coaching staff, the camps exhibit Coach Dambrot's emphasis on fundamentals, defense and hard work as the major components of being a great basketball player.
The JAR is also home to summer camps for both the Akron women's
basketball and volleyball programs. Women's basketball holds a
two-day team shootout and a four-day individual camp geared toward
high school players of all skill levels, along with a Li'l Zips Day
Camp and an Elite Camp. Similar to that, volleyball offers two team
camps and a two-day individual camp, along with several individual
day clinics designed to teach specific aspects of the game to all