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GCU to expand seating at new arena

Phoenix -- It opened just a few years ago, but officials at Grand Canyon University are already going to make changes at GCU Arena.

The 5,000 seat arena is the home court of GCU's basketball team, and the school has recently jumped to NCAA Division I sports.

Former Arizona Diamondbacks President Jerry Colangelo is now with Grand Canyon University. During a Saturday appearance on KTAR's Arizona's Morning News Weekend show, Colangelo said the arena is too small.

"If GCU knew when the building went up just a couple of years ago that they would be in Division I as quickly as we have, it would have been built bigger," Colangelo said.

"We need more seats for next season, and we've figured out a way to add 2,000 more seats."

Even though the building will seat 7,000 next year, Colangelo insists that every seat will be close to the action. "It will be a very intimate arena," he said.

"When you have 7,000 standing-room-only people watching basketball, I love that because in basketball, intimacy sells."

Colangelo said that's what he had in mind when he led the building of America West Arena in downtown Phoenix in the early 1990s. He says that arena, which is now known as U.S. Airways Center, has remained intimate through all of these years as the home court of the Phoenix Suns.

He said that the arena needs to expand to keep pace with the school's growth. The university has some 8,500 students now. It's projected to jump to 15,000 within the next few years.

In addition to basketball, GCU Arena also hosts many Christian concerts and events.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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