Tennessee men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes briefly met with the local media Wednesday afternoon on an important day for Vol basketball.
Tennessee athletics announced a new partnership with Food City that will change the name of the Vols’ home basketball arena from Thompson-Boling Arena to Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center. Food City forked over $20 million for the 10-year naming rights of the basketball arena.
That money will, at least in part, go to renovating and improving the 21,678 seat arena that opened in 1987.
“It’s exciting. … When I saw the plans yesterday it really blew me away,” Barnes said.
“I’m excited for Food City too because they’ve been a partner for a long time and now for them to really make this commitment,” Barnes said. “I think it says a lot about them and their community involvement but also what it means for our student athletes. Everyone knows Thompson-Boling Arena now at the Food City Center is a great place and it’s only going to get better-and-better. I do think it’ll become the best basketball arena in the country.”
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Barnes is entering his ninth season as Tennessee’s men’s basketball program. The veteran college basketball coach has rejuvenated and stabilized the Vols’ program in his tenure. In eight years he’s led Tennessee to five NCAA Tournament appearances and two Sweet 16 berths.
The Hickory, North Carolina native has also recruited at an extremely high level during his tenure landing six five-star recruits and a myriad of four-stars in his tenure. Thompson-Boling Arena’s renovations should help bolster Tennessee’s recruiting efforts.
“Recruiting is the life blood and everybody knows that,” Barnes said. “This only enhances the experience that people will feel when they come in here and, again, it’s exciting.”
Check out everything Barnes said Wednesday discussing the new partnership and the arena renovations below.