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Courtesy: Toledo Athletics
John F. Savage Arena

John F. Savage Arena

Courtesy: Toledo Athletics
Release: 10/03/2007
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John F. Savage Arena, the home of Rocket men's and women's basketball, as well as women's volleyball, is one of the finest athletic facilities of its kind in the country.

A $30 million renovation and expansion of Savage Arena, along with the adjoining Charles A. Sullivan Athletic Complex, debuted in November of 2008.

Originally known as Centennial Hall when it was built in 1976, the arena was renamed "Savage Hall" in 1988 and then became "Savage Arena" in 2008 as part of the renovation project.

Designed by architectural firms of SSOE, Inc. and Ellerbe Becket, the new Savage Arena includes a new "bowl-style" seating configuration that brings fans close to the action. Seating capacity for basketball and volleyball is 7,300.

Among the other improvements to the arena as part of the renovation are the addition of a brand-new basketball court; suites, loges and club seats along the west side of the area; a new jumbo video scoreboard and sound system; new lighting; new rest rooms and concession stands; a remodeled Joe Grogan Room, a glass-enclosed lounge with seating for up to 200 dinner guests; new locker rooms and team rooms; and a new athletic training room, complete with two whirpools and the latest in treatment and rehabilitation equipment.

Adjoining Savage Arena is the brand new Sullivan Complex, a 36,000 square-foot building that serves as the perfect complement to the new arena. Highlighting the Sullivan Complex is the beautiful new glass atrium lobby that serves as the primary entrance into Savage Arena. Other features include a new ticket office; the "Rocket Shop" for the sale of UT merchandise on game day and during normal business hours; a brandnew Varsity 'T' Hall of Fame; the Downtown Coaches "Wall of Champions"; a new 10,000 square-foot strength and training center for UT student-athletes; and new offices for coaches and staff.

The basketball court in Savage bears the name of the greatest coach in UT men's history -- Bob Nichols. Nichols coached the Rockets from 1965-87 and is still the winningest coach in Mid-American Conference history, compiling a 376-212 record and five conference titles in 22 seasons.

Men's Basketball

During their time in Savage Arena, the UT men's basketball team has consistently ranked among the MAC leaders in attendance, more often than not ranking first in the league. Toledo ranked first in the league in attendance in 2008-09 and second last season. Since Savage Arena opened in 1976, more than three million fans have watched the Rockets play, including a record 147,203 in 1980-81, which ranked as the 30th-best total in the nation that season.

With big crowds have come big wins. The first game played in Savage Arena is perhaps the biggest win of them all - the 59-57 victory over defending NCAA champion Indiana University in 1976. With that win, the Rockets snapped Bobby Knight and the Hoosiers' 33-game winning streak and started a supreme basketball tradition in Savage Arena. The Rockets have continued the tradition with home victories over Ohio State, Xavier, Cincinnati, Houston and Pittsburgh.

Trips to Savage Arena have meant frustration for visiting opponents, as UT has won more than 72 percent of its games at home. During the first five years in Savage Arena, UT posted an amazing 71-10 (.877) record, with a 15-1 mark in 1976-77 and 1978-79 and a 14-1 slate in 1979-80.

Women's Basketball

The UT women's basketball team has posted up just as impressive numbers, if not more so. The Rockets have led the Mid-American Conference in attendance an astounding 22 consecutive seasons and ranked No. 28 nationally in 2011-12, averaging 3,748 fans per contest for the second-highest total in school history. During its historic run through the 2011 postseason, UT posted a school-record and MAC-best 7,301 fans vs. USC in the WNIT Championship Game. 

The women have dominated play on the Savage Arena floor as well, winning over 75 percent (303-96 mark) of their home games since beginning play there in 1982-83. In four years under Head Coach Tricia Cullop, Toledo is an impressive 57-8 (.877) on its home court, including 30-2 (.938) against MAC opponents.

Concerts and Shows

A multi-purpose complex, Savage Arena not only serves the needs of intercollegiate athletics, but it also hosts concerts, convocations and graduation exercises. To date, nearly eight million people have visited Savage Hall for various forms of entertainment.

The list of entertainers who have performed in Savage Arena include Elvis Presley, Cher, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Kenny Chesney, Sheryl Crow, TLC, Boyz II Men, Elton John, Frank Sinatra, Michael Bolton, Rod Stewart, Bob Seger, Steve Winwood and many others.

Highlighting the start of the 2001-02 academic year was the appearance of President George W. Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox, speaking in Savage Arena on Sept. 6, 2001 as part of Fox's state visit.

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