Michael Jordan, Elvis, Bogie Busters, oh my

Looking back at UD Arena before its facelift

By Jim Bucher

It’s official! The University of Dayton Arena will receive a $72 million upgrade.

Between 2017-19 they’ll add major seating upgrades, new concourses, entrances, lighting, scoreboards, the whole shebang.

The arena is close to 50 years old (and who at that age couldn’t use a touch-up?).

Of course, you know me, Mr. Nostalgia Dude, so I’m thinking back over the many years and countless hours as a TV news reporter I spent there.

Tons of high school basketball and college games. A circus or three. Some concerts (that I can remember, a bit foggy at the time). And lots of other events, from A-Z.

Heck, I even interviewed the one and only basketball legend Michael Jordan as he was attempting a BB comeback.

Well, sort of. I was so nervous I had a radio reporter hold my mic as I recorded the proceedings. MJ was approachable, yet intimidating. He sat in the men’s locker room while my camera rolled.

Like a fool, I used to my standard line, blurting out, “Name and spell it please.” He looked at me like I was from another planet, i.e. “Space Jam.”

That’s my claim to fame, but others reminded me of the stars who graced the arena over the years, from “The Voice” (not the TV show) Francis Albert Sinatra to “The King,” Elvis!

Wanda Mason writes, “I saw him not that long before he passed away. So high up in the stands I could almost touch the ceiling. He did not disappoint.”

“I saw Elvis there when I was not quite 6 years old,” Bronwyn Leilani Graham Duteil says.

“I’ll never forget him coming out on-stage, and me screaming for him like all the big girls. Graduated high school there in ’87 and next week, my son also graduates from CHS, 30 years later.”

“I saw Elvis twice at UD Arena—one time was in the second to last row, near the top,” Bob Stork tells me, “and two old ladies were in the top row behind me talking about getting hot flashes watching ‘The Pelvis.’”

“Elvis…one of my favorite memories,” Juletta Joy Aycock says. “I actually took pictures through my friend’s binoculars. Was shocked when I had them developed! (Ask your grandparents if you don’t understand this term.) Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton a couple of times, too.”

Others have different memories, like Tracy Sax Lakes: “I remember when it was first under construction, that part of the structure collapsed and had to be redone. We were concerned that the Aerosmith concert might shake it apart again! Fortunately, it never has.”

Skip Peterson, former Dayton Daily News chief photographer, shares, “I was there for the Jackson Browne concert, Running on Empty tour, spent the whole day at the arena with Browne and the crew: they let me shoot the concert from on stage! Plus, I’ve photographed about 80 of the NCAA games played there.”

Skip, I believe, has a plaque and bust of himself in the lobby for most visits.

Melissa Mills-Constantine says, “Remember waiting outside in the dead of winter overnight for Alabama concert tickets to be able to sit up-close—did that with friends every year for a few years in early ’80s.”

Now that’s a fan!

And how about those Trekkie fans?

“I experienced three major (to me) events at UD Arena,” Kevin Bonnett says. “First—a ’70s trip with Grandpa to see Gene Roddenberry talk about Star Trek. This included watching the then-never-aired original pilot ‘The Cage’ with Captain Pike—not Kirk—a blooper reel, and Q&A.”

Wonder if they beamed up aboard the arena?

Amy Mann adds, “I saw my first concert there with none other than the awesome Jim Bucher! Remember CHICAGO?”

Yes, I remember!

Matt Owen has an awesome basketball story: “It was Jan. 9, 1990—Wright State University 101, University of Dayton 99. The two played each other only eight times. UD beat WSU five of those eight, but the Wright State victory in 1990 at UD Arena was the first and was a stinger for UD.”

Now Matt, let’s not start a cross-town fight.

Lastly, Lynn Warren, a fan of the old Carol Burnett Show and M*A*S*H TV series, says, “I saw Bogie Busters there once. McLean Stevenson and Harvey Korman did a stand-up comedy routine. At that time, there was no air conditioning in the arena and it was hot. Harvey asked everyone to stand up and ‘jerk your shorts loose.’”

Finally, I’ll leave you with this from Steve Pax: “Buch, I saw Elvis last week outside Jim’s Donuts in Vandalia.”

Hey Steve, leave the comedy to me.

Cheers,

Buch

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Jim Bucher
For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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