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ND Athletics: Joyce’s renovation set for 2008

Ken Fowler and Chris Khorey | Thursday, October 4, 2007

Notre Dame announced Wednesday it has finalized plans to begin its $26.3 million renovations to the Joyce Center in September 2008.

The University has chosen the architects for the project and will begin with a three-story addition to the south side of the building, a statement released Wednesday said.

The addition will house Notre Dame’s ticket office, a souvenir shop and a gateway atrium.

In May 2009, immediately after the Joyce Center’s south dome houses Notre Dame’s graduation ceremony, construction will begin on the seating in the arena, which is home to the men’s and women’s basketball teams and the women’s volleyball team.

The arena will be closed for most of the summer of 2009 and will re-open in October of that year, although construction will not be finished until January 2010, the statement said.

As part of Athletic Director Kevin White’s $100 million “master plan” for improvements in athletics facilities, the University has already completed a $2.1 million, 10,000-square-foot indoor golf facility and the $23 million Guglielmino Athletics Complex for football.

Construction has begun on the Melissa Cook Softball Stadium, and the University has secured the majority of the funding for a $25-30 million hockey arena within the north dome of the Joyce Center and a new lacrosse stadium.

Other portions of the master plan include a plan for a new soccer stadium, located almost adjacent to the east side of the Joyce Center, a new tennis facility and the renovation of the football team’s practice fields. Plans call for the football team, which currently uses three natural-grass practice fields, to have two Field Turf-quality artificial grass fields and one natural -grass practice facility.

Irish coach Charlie Weis said Wednesday the main benefit of Field Turf practice fields is allowing the team to “practice outside regardless of the weather.” It also allows the team to practice on artificial surfaces outside when the team prepares to play in places – like Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium, where Notre Dame and Navy played last season – that have open-air stadiums with artificial turf.

“When we played Navy last year and you’re playing in the Ravens’ stadium, and they play on Field Turf, you don’t want to practice inside if you’re playing [outside],” Weis said.

“But the other positive effect, to be honest with you, is it’d be nice to have the students to have surfaces they could use when we’re not using them. And when you have grass fields, you can’t really do that. But you have Field Turf fields, there’ll be plenty of times in the year we’re not using them that now, all of a sudden, RecSports could end up using them. And I think that everyone wins in that situation.”

The athletic department has raised more than $68 million for athletic facility improvements as part of the University’s $1.5 billion “Spirit of Notre Dame” capital campaign.

The north dome of the Joyce Center, which houses the hockey team and is also slated for renovations, was not mentioned in Wednesday’s release.