John F. Savage Arena enters its 34th year as the home of Rocket basketball, and its second since the completion of a $30 million renovation that has made the University of Toledo athletic facility one of the finest arenas in the country.
Originally known as Centennial Arena when it was built in 1976, the arena was renamed "Savage Hall" in 1988 and then became "Savage Arena" last year 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 will bring fans closer to the action. Seating capacity for basketball is 7,300.
Among the other improvements to the arena 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.
During their time in Savage Arena, the Rockets have consistently ranked among the MAC leaders in attendance, more often than not ranking first in the league. In 2008-09, Toledo averaged a MAC-best 5,610 fans marking the second time in the last three seasons UT has set the pace in the conference. 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 as well as a 57-56 triumph over UMass in the first game of the 'New' Savage Arena last year.
Trips to Savage Arena have meant frustration for visiting opponents, as UT has won nearly 75 percent of its games at home, posting a 362-126 record. 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.
The longest consecutive winning streak by the Rockets in Savage Arena is 16 games, run up at the end of the 1978-79 season. During that streak, UT outscored opponents by an average of 17 points per game. Between Nov. 30, 1978, and Dec. 1, 1981, the Rockets recorded an incredible 45-3 mark.
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.
Rocket Locker Room
The Rockets' locker room features custom wooden lockers, team meeting space, a team lounge, an LCD flat-screen TV and shower facilities.
The Rocket Shop is the official athletic gear store for the athletic department and has more than 150 clothing and gift items for sale.
The video scoreboard in Savage Arena is 28x23 and weighs eight tons. It contains four video screens, 8x14 each, that displays players' points and fouls.
Grogan Room Seats: 200
Club Seats: 194
Courtside Seats: 84
Varsity 'T' Hall of Fame
A ceiling-mounted display features plaques from nearly 200 former Rocket student-athletes, coaches and administrators who have been inducted into the Varsity 'T' Hall of Fame since 1977.