Cajundome patrons can look forward to colder beer, better food and a more intimate and comfortable arena experience when the facility reopens next month after a $21 million renovation.
The Cajundome has been closed since May for the most extensive upgrades since it opened in 1985.
The dome's roughly 11,000 orange-and-white seats from 30 years ago have been replaced with sleek new black ones, all with cup holders, and seating has been reconfigured for better sight lines and more capacity.
The new seating arrangement will let spectators get closer to the action at University of Louisiana at Lafayette basketball games, said Cajundome Director Greg Davis.
"The first row of seating, their feet will be on the basketball court," he said. "The configuration is going to be far more intimate for UL basketball games."
UL-Lafayette basketball is among the Cajundome's main attractions, and the history of the school's basketball program is told in a series of new graphics throughout the facility.
Perhaps the most obvious change is the darker color scheme in the arena.
The old dingy white walls are now black and various shades of gray, a change that — when coupled with the new black seats — cuts down on reflections and focuses the lighting and attention on the performance or game.
"It allows for a theatrical presentation," Davis said. "The (old) color scheme didn't work very well."
The arena's lighting has been replaced with a modern LED full-color system, said Cajundome Operations Director Phil Ashurst.
In the concession area, new grills and fryers will allow more food to be cooked on-site rather than carted in from an outside kitchen.
Davis said patrons can look forward to an expanded menu of made-to-order items.
"In order to have a diverse menu, you have to have the ability to cook in the stands," he said.
There will be a bigger selection of regular and craft brews at the renovated bar area, and the draft beer system features refrigerated lines running from a spacious new keg cooler.
"The lines are chilled all the way through," Ashurst said. "It keeps the beer cold all the way to the tap."
A few other notable changes: the massive roof was cleaned of mildew and coated with new sealant, handrails were installed inside the arena, the entrance was spruced up and the restrooms were renovated.
The facility had a soft opening this week with a youth conference but is scheduled to officially reopen on Dec. 1 to host a UL-Lafayette basketball doubleheader with men's and women's games.