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$26.3 million basketball arena to open

Megan Doyle | Wednesday, October 28, 2009

­The deadline to purchase student ticket booklets for this season men’s basketball in the new Purcell Pavilion is rapidly approaching, and the improved student section is anticipated to be filled of fans ready to support the Fighting Irish in the coming weeks.

This season will be the team’s first in the new arena. The completion of Purcell Pavilion, which includes the basketball court and seating area, is the result of the $26.3 million project for Joyce Center renovations, according to the University’s official athletic Web site.

A new entrance to the Joyce Center welcomes fans and hints of further renovations within the building. The new amenities in the Joyce include a varsity shop for apparel and Notre Dame souvenirs, new ticket offices and an exclusive stadium club and hospitality area. The old colored seats have been replaced with blue chair-back seating, and the various fan facilities such as restrooms have also received a makeover, according to the Web site.

Despite the improved Joyce interior, the arena saw a decrease of about two thousand seats, according to the Web site. The May Commencement Ceremonies have already been relocated because of the Joyce’s limited seating. 

The number of student seats, however, has grown despite the decrease in overall seating, senior assistant athletic director Josh Berlo said.

“The overall percentage of student seats out of the arena actually is increased, and we now have four lower arena sections as opposed to two,” he said. “Improving the student section was a priority in the renovations.”

Berlo said despite the increased price, the Athletics Department has not seen a decrease in demand.

The price of student tickets rose from $80 to $100 for this season, he said, yet approximately 1,850 student booklets out of an available 2,500 have already been sold. He said the reason for the price increase is the number of games available to students rather than the recent JACC renovations.

“There are 18 games in the student booklets this year,” Berlo said. “That’s the most we have ever had.”

Single tickets for elsewhere in the area rose from prices ranging between $13 and $33 last year to between $15 and $40 this year, Berlo said.

Students are appreciative of the improvements in the arena. Senior Caitlin Flynn was optimistic about her last year in the student section.

“I bought tickets sophomore and junior year too, and I was not happy that the price has gone up,” she said. “But I am excited about the improvements to the student section and having more seats closer to the floor. Students should be up front in the action.”

Many of the fans who are not discouraged by the price increase and who plan to be present in the student section are looking forward to the beginning of the season.

“Even though my sister paid a lot less for her tickets a few years ago, I was willing to buy mine for more because I am excited for the season,” freshman Chris Paluf said. “The games are definitely worth it.”

The deadline for buying the student booklets is today, and Berlo encourages students who wish to be part of the Leprechaun Legion to make the purchase quickly. The men’s basketball team opens its season in the Purcell Pavilion with an exhibition against Lewis University Sunday night.