Major renovations made to the JAR

By: DJ Johnson

James A. Rhodes Arena, home of the Akron Zips since 1983, went through a $650,000 renovation this summer.

The facility, which houses the volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball teams, received renovations to player lounges and a state-of-the-art weight room.

The space will be used for multiple purposes, including team meetings, individual study time, social interaction and recruiting visits.

“As we continue to try to take the next step with our basketball program, it’s imperative that we improve our facilities,” said men’s basketball Head Coach Keith Dambrot. “We are very excited about the administration’s support of our program.”

While the area will be used for current Zips players, it will be vital for recruiting, as each program attempts to sign the best players possible.

“It will definitely help out with recruiting,” said women’s basketball Head Coach Jodi Kest. “I don’t think you will find another school in the MAC that will have a facility like we have.”

Multi-screen audio/visual equipment will be used for practice and game analysis and opponent scouting. The video systems are set to synchronize with equipment located in the coaching staffs’ offices. This will increase efficiency in film study and game preparation.

“[The renovations] will make our player experience better,” said Dambrot, who saw arguably the biggest upgrade to Rhodes Arena in his eight years as head coach.

In order to make room for the upgrades, the University demolished several classrooms. The destruction of the classrooms allowed for 1,650 square feet of space for the strength training facility. A large “Fear the Roo” mural lies on the opposite side of a wall covered in mirrors.

The lounges are located near each team’s locker room and the arena floor. Graphics are spread through each lounge to identify each program with the University and Zips Athletics.

“We are very happy with the improvements to the JAR,” said Kest. “The back lounge will be a great place for our young ladies to relax. It will be a great opportunity to do our scouting reports.”

The lounges were approved for construction by the University’s Board of Trustees in April of this year.

The renovations are the latest major improvements to the JAR since the arena sound system was upgraded in 2005. The hardwood floor was replaced in 2002, and the four LED display screens at midcourt were added the same year.

James A. Rhodes Arena is named after former Ohio governor Jim Rhodes.