By Kevin Collison
The College Basketball Experience next to the Sprint Center is replacing some dead wood, specifically its center basketball court which has gotten tired after 12 years of abundant bouncing.
“We have 100,000 visitors annually and 100 basketball tournaments every year,” said CBE spokeswoman Celeste Lupercio. “It’s also our main space for corporate events like banquets.
“We use it a lot.”
Lupercio said CBE chief executive Kevin Henderson gave the go ahead to replace the court, which is slightly smaller than regulation size, after some random dribbling tests revealed numerous “dead spots” on the hardwood court.
The College Basketball Experience at 13th and Grand opened in 2007 and was part of the original round of major downtown redevelopment investments including the Sprint Center, Power & Light District and H&R Block headquarters.
The CBE is run by the National Association of the Basketball Coaches, an organization founded in Kansas City in 1927 by legendary KU coach “Phog” Allen, and also is home to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.
Its two floors are dedicated to fully interactive exhibits and the history of men’s college basketball including coaches, contributors and players.
The CBE has drawn about 100,000 visitors per year since its opening and is coming off a banner March with 15,000 attendees thanks to the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament followed up by the NCAA Midwest Regional Tournament.
Lupercio said the facility has a particularly strong regional draw from surrounding states, but also draws visitors from across the U.S. and as far away as Australia.
The center court was renamed the “Kay Barnes Court” in 2015 by the Coaches Association after former Mayor Barnes, who was described as being instrumental in making the CBE a part of downtown revitalization.
The current renovation also includes a revamp of the “Mentor’s Circle.” The centerpiece will be the NABC Trophy, a glittering basketball fashioned from Waterford crystal, given annually to the winner of the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament.
Lupercio said the Mentor’s Circle hasn’t been updated since the CBE opened 12 years ago and fresh graphics and more engaging content also are in the works.
Construction began Tuesday and is expected to continue through early June. The other parts of the facility will remain open during renovation at a reduced admission rate of $10.
Hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
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