New premium Kohl Center seating will displace some Wisconsin men's basketball ticketholders

MADISON – University of Wisconsin officials announced in February that the width of the ice rink at the Kohl Center would be reduced to 85 feet from 97 in time for the 2024-2025 season.

What wasn't known at the time was whether that reduction would eventually affect seating for men's basketball.

It will.

Several hundred fans who have seats in the first few rows on each side of the court have been informed UW plans to reconfigure those areas for the instillation of premium seating in time for next season.

Justin Doherty, senior associate athletic director for external communications, said Wednesday that 378 single seats will be removed and replaced by a total of 188 premium seats. The premium seats will cost more than the current courtside seats.

What will happen to season-ticket holders displaced by the change?

"Our staff is working with people in those seats to find alternate seats," Doherty said, adding fans should have the option of upgrading to the new seats. "We are speaking with everybody."

The plan is conceptually similar to the recent renovation of the south end zone at Camp Randall Stadium. All the bleacher seating was removed and replaced by premium seating options and indoor/outdoor hospitality clubs that offered premium food and beverage options.

That project was completed in time for the 2022 season.

Some Kohl Center seating will be adjusted before the 2024-25 basketball season.
Some Kohl Center seating will be adjusted before the 2024-25 basketball season.

The new Kohl Center seating is the latest example of officials continue to look for ways to increase revenue, as well as give fans more seating options.

Considering that fans are being asked to contribute money for NIL (Name, Image and Likeness), in part so coaches can retain current athletes, and more premium seating options, Doherty was asked if UW officials are at all concerned fans might feel overburdened financially.

"I would answer that this way," he said. "We are in a rapidly changing environment in college athletics. We intend to compete in this environment.

"There are hundreds of questions out there about what the future is going to look like and we will still require the support of a fantastic fan base moving forward to accomplish what we want to accomplish.

"At the end of the day, to continue to be competitive and to continue to pursue championships and the things that we want and that fans want, it is going to require financial support.

"Whether it is for a (new) practice facility or for the Varsity Collective ... the landscape looks a lot different now...It is going to be different."

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin's new premium Kohl Center seats will displace ticketholders