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White discloses details of JACC donation

Justin Tardiff | Tuesday, October 24, 2006

With Notre Dame still searching for the final donations for its $24.7 million plan to renovate the south dome of the Joyce Center, athletic director Kevin White continued his media push to gain momentum on the project this weekend, announcing “a very significant piece of the project.”

White announced Friday a $5 million “lead gift” by the family of Vince Naimoli, who is chairman of Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Devil Rays and a 1959 graduate of Notre Dame. The gift is part of the $22 million dollars donors already had pledged to the University.

“The inspiration [for the donation] was the school being in need,” Naimoli said. “If it helps our programs in any small way, I’d be happy with that. … If there’s one thing we can do to honor [former Executive Vice President Father Ned Joyce’s] memory, we wanted to do it.”

White said the Naimoli gift would be earmarked for the planned 16,000 square-foot stadium club and hospitality area, which will be tied to approximately 800 seats at the south end of the arena. The south dome will be renamed Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center after Philip J. Purcell III, a Notre Dame Trustee and former chief executive officer of Morgan Stanley, who donated $12.5 million to the project.

“By having an opportunity to kind of talk about [this donation] publicly, it may get other [potential donors] to emulate, and it does build and create momentum,” White said. “And there’s no question that’s occurring.”

While remaining optimistic, White once again noted that construction – expected to take about one year – cannot begin until 100 percent of the needed donations have been pledged and the University has 75 percent of that cash on hand.

The University officially announced its plan to renovate the Joyce Center in a press conference Oct. 5. White’s announcement Friday did not elaborate on the plans or funding for the renovations, other than identifying the Naimoli family as the second largest donor for the project.

“We’re still trying to put together the last $3 million of funding, and we’re working at that as we speak,” White said. “[Associate athletic director] Bill Scholl and everyone else in development is working at that all the time.”

The plan to renovate the Joyce Center began in early 2001 when White started designing his “master plan” for athletic facilities on campus.

At the time, he had architectural firm HNTB study the arena and begin developing plans for a renovation. Five years and $22 million later, HNTB is still the University’s architect for the project.

“The [Development Office has] been working on this since we had HNTB start the study back five years ago,” White said. “These public disclosals are really important [for acquiring the final donors].”

The new design is an attempt to update and revitalize an arena that hosts more than 350 events a year. Former Notre Dame athletic director and former NCAA President Gene Corrigan said Friday that plans like this one can be successful.

“My feeling is that the most important thing is that [facilities] are practical,” Corrigan said. “If you look at Duke, they’re one of the top five overall programs in the country … and they’re still playing on the same basketball court they were playing on when I was in the 40s, but they fixed it up. It’s a lot nicer than it was.”

The project will be the first major renovation of the 38-year-old basketball arena. The last significant addition to the Joyce Center was the 1985 construction of the Rolfs Aquatic Center.

The construction will renovate both the interior and exterior of the south side of the Joyce Center, benefiting both the basketball and volleyball programs.

Purcell Pavilion will replace the 5,500 bleacher seats in the upper bowl of the south dome with blue chair-back seats. That change will reduce the maximum arena capacity from 11,418 to approximately 9,800.

The new arena will also feature an exterior extension – a “dramatic entrance” – at the south end of the stadium, currently Gate 11. That addition will include a 4,500 square-foot ticket office and 3,000 square-foot retail store.