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University to renovate Joyce Center

Ken Fowler | Friday, October 6, 2006

Notre Dame’s basketball arena will get both a new look and a new name, thanks to an upcoming $25 million renovation – but a significant number of questions remained unanswered after the University’s announcement Thursday.

The University will renovate the south dome of the Joyce Center and rename it Purcell Pavilion to the Joyce Center in honor of Philip J. Purcell III, a Notre Dame Trustee and lead donor for the project, athletic director Kevin White said.

However, neither White nor University architect Doug Marsh could name a start date for the project, since University guidelines require 100 percent of construction costs to be confirmed and 75 percent cash in hand before the University breaks ground.

Currently, the University has more than $22 million of the $24.7 million dollar project confirmed – $12.5 million from Purcell, and approximately $10 million more from “a handful” of donors, White said.

Marsh did say once construction begins, the project should take somewhere over a year.

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.

“Purcell Pavilion will … have a huge impact on countless university and community events, as well, as there’s just an inordinate number of events that take place in this facility,” White said.

The construction will renovate both the interior and exterior of the south side of the Joyce Center, benefiting both the basketball and volleyball programs. When questions about renovations for other facilities – specifically, plans to redo the hockey arena – arose at Thursday’s press conference, Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves said the University won’t make concrete plans until funding is secured.

“I would say that all of those [projects] are always pending funding, and what we’ve learned in the past is it’s better to stay at the conceptual level,” Affleck-Graves said. “Because if it takes two or three years, things change so much and you change design, and it’s actually not worth spending the money doing detailed design for a project that may not occur for three or four years. Because usually when you get to do it things have changed, and you have to redo it all.”

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.

Purcell Pavilion will also feature an exterior extension of the south entrance. Marsh said the dome will feature a “dramatic entrance” and lobby between Gates 8 and 10, and a 60,000 square-foot addition therein. That addition will include a 4,500 square-foot ticket office and 3,000 square-foot retail store.

Within that extension will be a “stadium club” venue with access to the arena. The club will be “a place to congregate for basketball clubs or other kinds of groups to enjoy pre-game activities, post-game activities or other times of the day,” Marsh said.

Marsh said the exterior construction likely will take 12 months or more, while the interior changes can be completed in “substantially” less time.

White compared the club seating to the fifth floor of the press box in Notre Dame Stadium, the private university level. He said Purcell Pavilion will also feature an increased number of women’s restrooms, improved concession stands and more handicapped-accessible seating to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The “conceptual” renderings by HNTB architectural firm also included a new, hanging scoreboard inside the arena. But White and Marsh said the drawings were only preliminary and primarily for fundraising purposes.

Named after former Executive Vice President Father Edmund Joyce, the Joyce Center was dedicated in 1968. The initial construction cost $6.8 million.

“This facility is a tribute to Father Joyce,” Affleck-Graves said. “After 40 years, however, it needs a little facelift. And that’s what we’re about.”

Despite the lack of timeframe for other renovations of other teams’ facilities, White said the momentum from this announcement should propel Notre Dame towards full funding of this project and the many others – including new hockey, soccer and lacrosse stadiums – in the athletic department’s “Master Plan.”

“I want to express my heart-felt appreciation to Phil,” White said. “My sense is that Father Ned Joyce is smiling down upon you, Phil, as you provide his Joyce Center with a dramatic makeover.”

Purcell, a member of the Board of Trustees since 1991, said he would “always be grateful to Notre Dame.”

“[Athletics] is an important aspect to this school’s tradition,” he said. “… This new facility is not just for the basketball teams – it’s for the entire community.”

Purcell was chief executive officer of Morgan Stanley from 1997 until this March.

Before joining Morgan Stanley, Purcell was chairman chief executive officer of Dean Witter Discover for 11 years.