NKU's BB&T Arena: Home of the... Cincinnati Bearcats?
This story has been updated.
Northern Kentucky University and BB&T Arena confirmed Friday evening that the University of Cincinnati men's basketball team's home games will be played in Highland Heights.
UC's Fifth Third Arena will undergo a renovation that won't be completed until the fall of 2018.
“We are pleased to assist the University of Cincinnati and its men’s basketball program for the 2017-18 season and to host the Bearcats in BB&T Arena during their renovation of Fifth Third Arena,” said Ken Bothof, Northern Kentucky University’s Director of Athletics. “We certainly appreciate the great working relationship we have had with Mike Bohn and all of his staff throughout this process.”
UC also considered to play next season's home games at U.S. Bank Arena on the Cincinnati riverfront. That arena's leadership issued a statement on Thursday lamenting its apparent loss of the games to BB&T Arena at Northern Kentucky University.
"U.S. Bank Arena is committed to providing the best sports and entertainment to the Cincinnati area," U.S. Bank Arena chief operating officer Ray Harris said in a statement. "We have a genuine desire to host the 2017-2018 UC Bearcats Men's Basketball season and have made every effort to secure that commitment for this community. We are confident that we can work with the University of Cincinnati to provide an enjoyable experience for fans, alumni, and students alike.
"While we believe we have provided a more than fair deal to the University, we also made it clear that if there were any issues, financial or otherwise, that we would appreciate the opportunity to address them," Harris continued. "To date, they have not communicated any specific concerns with our proposal."
BB&T Arena opened in 2008. The $60 million facility seats nearly 10,000 and features a dozen luxury suites and courtside seating. Northern Kentucky University advanced to NCAA Division I status, the same as the University of Cincinnati athletics, five years ago. The arena is home to NKU's men's and women's basketball teams, as well as concerts and other events.
“We are excited to host the UC Bearcats next year and expose a new fan base to our beautiful arena,” said Andy Meeks, Director of Business Operations and Auxiliary Services. "With the modern amenities in BB&T Arena, we will provide a positive experience to UC, its men’s basketball team, donors and fans.”
Last week, the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region debated the merits of moving FC Cincinnati's soccer games to Covington or Newport, and now this week another team from the Queen City is flirting with making the Bluegrass its home.
-Michael Monks, editor & publisher