Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center

University of Florida

Transforming a tired, old arena into a next generation entertainment venue.



As the home of the University of Florida’s basketball, volleyball, swimming, diving, and gymnastics programs and the area’s primary venue, the aging 300,000 sf Stephen C. O’Connell Center was in dire need of an upgrade. The previous facility lacked a grand entry and forced visitors to enter through four small entrances, causing poor flow around the bowl. Also, a lack of fan amenities and an aging infrastructure meant the facility was ill-equipped to handle large-scale events. The Davis team worked with the university to identify opportunities to turn the arena into a transformative, next-generation entertainment venue, ready to serve the school and the area for decades to come.

To remedy those issues, the east side of the facility, located directly across the street from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, was expanded to create a new main entrance and grand lobby that feeds directly into a renovated seating bowl. Previously, the facility had three levels of seating, with the lower two being telescoping platforms. The second level platforms were removed and replaced with a permanent concrete grandstand, which created a 360-degree perimeter concourse with fan amenities such as concessions, restrooms, merchandise kiosks, and a new Center Court Club. Also renovated was the event level with new home and visitor locker rooms, multi-purpose rooms, and a Courtside Club.

To me, it’s a whole new arena. I think that’s what might take people by surprise when they get in and experience it. It’s not just a renovated O’Connell Center.
— Chip Howard, Former Executive Associate Athletic Director

At a glance

  • Located in Gainesville, FL

  • 217,000 sf

  • Completed December 2016


  • Architecture

  • Interior Design

  • Facility Programming

  • Renovation + Restoration

  • Sustainable Design

LEED Certification

  • LEED Gold (v4) Pending