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Renovation plans leave questions

Staff Editorial | Thursday, October 5, 2006

Why now?

Three Notre Dame athletic programs – men’s basketball, women’s basketball and volleyball – received good news Thursday morning when University officials announced major renovation plans for the Joyce Center.

The new-look athletic center will include a basketball arena – Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center – named after $12.5 million benefactor and Notre Dame Trustee Phillip J. Purcell III. It will be a vastly better facility than the one the teams use now. They saw drawings of new seats, a new entrance and received a new outlook on the future.

The problem was, it wasn’t a complete outlook.

That might not matter to men’s basketball coach Mike Brey, women’s basketball coach Muffett McGraw and volleyball coach Debbie Brown. Their teams look to benefit the most if the plans are seen to completion.

But without a projected completion – or, even worse, a starting date – in mind, nothing is certain. Yes, Notre Dame’s athletic facilities have not kept up with the success of the athletic teams over the past decade and the renovated arena is much needed. With last year’s addition of the football team’s first-rate Guglielmino Athletics Complex, the plans are a sign that Notre Dame athletic facilities are moving in the right direction.

But even with all of the excitement and applause surrounding Thursday’s announcement, it’s hard not to ask the question – why make the announcement now?

University officials could not say when the facility would be completed.

They showed no plans to improve the University’s currently subpar hockey facilities.

They failed to say how many student tickets would be allotted or where the student body would sit at games.

There was nothing in the plans about soccer, lacrosse or even track and field facility improvements.

The press conference gave University officials and donors a chance to pat themselves on the back, but failed to give the full picture of future Notre Dame athletic facilities.

Purcell, to his credit, generously gave an enormous amount of money to the project and was lauded by the University for his donation. He deserves the fanfare, but the school needs others like him to step up.

Notre Dame officials said they are still in the process of raising the final three million of a $25 million goal. Why not wait until those three million dollars are in the University bank account before announcing major facility upgrades?

With the Board of Trustees meeting and a football game this weekend, Thursday’s press conference gave more publicity to big donors and little information to hundreds of Notre Dame athletes, coaches and fans waiting to know more about what the future holds.