The third-largest on-campus basketball arena in the country, Thompson-Boling Assembly Center and Arena is one of the nation's biggest and brightest stages for college basketball.
Named for the late B. Ray Thompson Sr. (1906-87) and former UT President Dr. Edward J. Boling (1922-2015), Thompson-Boling Arena opened in 1987 and regularly hosts Tennessee men's and women's basketball and volleyball matches as well as concerts, camps, conferences and other special events throughout the year.
Only Syracuse's Carrier Dome, which also is utilized for football, and UNC's Dean Smith Center can seat more on-campus basketball fans. Tennessee was one of only two schools in the country to rank in the top 10 nationally in both men’s and women’s basketball average home attendance during the 2017-18 season (Louisville was the other).
Thompson-Boling Arena has undergone a complete interior transformation dating over the last decade. In the fall of 2008, the University of Tennessee Athletics Department unveiled Phase I of a two-phase renovation project for the facility. The $35 million project marked the first major renovation in the venue's history.
Phase I included new seats for the entire arena, a center-hung scoreboard and concourse refurbishments, such as graphics and other amenities.
Phase I also included new luxury suites and loge seating, which were a primary funding source for much of the renovations. The 32 luxury suites are located in the north balcony of Thompson-Boling Arena. The loge area features 166 side court seats, located directly below the luxury suites and includes private adjoining hospitality areas.
Phase II highlights included the construction of a bridge connecting the G-10 parking garage to the arena at concourse level, and a 360-degree LED ribbon board located between the upper and lower decks also was added.
Finally, with the installation of state-of-the-art LED light fixtures—first put to use in February 2014—Thompson-Boling Arena became one of the first venues in the world to feature lights that are smaller, brighter, and up to 85 percent more efficient than conventional arena metal halide lights.
The light-emitting diode fixtures use an ORNL-developed lightweight graphite foam that cools the LED, making them more efficient and reliable. This enables ninety 400-watt LED fixtures to bathe the arena's floor with 200 foot-candles per square foot, compared to the 130 foot-candles produced by the arena's 110 old 1,100-watt fixtures.
In 2018, an extensive facelift took place to the existing men's and women's basketball locker-room space along the arena's north corridor on event level. Both locker rooms were enlarged and modernized with state-of-the-art technological and aesthetic enhancements. In addition, an expanded and enhanced athletic training facility, featuring world-class hydrotherapy systems, was completed for use by both basketball programs.
That new "Larry Pratt Basketball Locker Room Complex" cost $5 million, funded entirely through private gifts. Lead donor Larry Pratt's commitment of $2 million during the Campaign for Comprehensive Excellence—coupled with other leadership gifts—enabled UT to fund the project.
All restrooms throughout the facility also were renovated in 2018.
Funding for all Thompson-Boling Arena renovations projects came from donors to the Campaign for Tennessee Basketball, the Campaign for Comprehensive Excellence and revenue from new premium seating areas such as the north luxury suites and loge seats. The aforementioned capital projects bolstered Thompson-Boling Arena's reputation as one of the nation's premier basketball facilities.
Ticket facilities are conveniently located on the Phillip Fulmer Way level on the west end of the building.
The Tennessee men's basketball staff, along with the women's hoops staff, occupy offices in the arena on the Phillip Fulmer Way level. The arena's dining center, also located on Phillip Fulmer Way and highlighted by a Which Wich, operates on a daily basis, catering to the university's students and administrative staff.
Entrances to the building are located on the east and west ends, with protection from the elements provided by tucking the doors under the structure. There are a total of 132 entrance doors to the arena.
A continuous-ring concourse encircles the building permitting entrance to eight large restrooms, six concession areas and 32 portals leading to the arena. The playing floor level provides access to team dressing rooms, press work areas and storage rooms.
The distance from the playing floor to the roof is 120 feet, the equivalent of a 12-story building.
The arena is 448 feet long and 310 feet wide.
It contains more than 411,000 square feet of floor space and more than 17 million cubic feet of space.
The structure's roof measures 142,000 square feet, which is approximately three-and-one-quarter acres.