Sept. 11, 2010


A cold and rainy South Bend morning could not dampen the spirits of the more that 200 members of the Fighting Irish hockey family that gathered to witness the groundbreaking ceremony for the Compton Family Center, the on-campus ice arena on Saturday, September 11 at the site of the new facility.

A number of hockey Monogram winners attended the ceremony and the breakfast that preceded the event in the Corporate Hospitality Tent area.

“This will be one of, if not the best, college facilities in the entire country,” Kirt Bjork ’83 said. “If it doesn’t catapult Notre Dame to the premier destination for college hockey, I don’t know what will.”

The state-of-the-art, 5,000-seat arena, was made possible by a generous lead gift from Kevin and Gayla Compton, who also own the San Jose Sharks of the NHL. The Compton Family Center, scheduled to open its doors in October 2011, will include offices, a locker room and weight and cardio training facilities for the Notre Dame hockey program.

“This is a very exciting moment in the history of Notre Dame and Notre Dame athletics,” said Vice President of University Relations and ceremony emcee Lou Nanni. “For members of the hockey team both present and future, today is a day that we will not forget as we bless and dedicate this building.”

Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. began the ceremony by asking those present to pray for the successful completion of the arena and for the safety of those who work on it in the coming year. Jenkins then performed the blessing of the ground surrounding the arena.

Following Father Jenkins blessing, Notre Dame Hockey head coach Jeff Jackson thanked the members of the athletics administration, donors and all others involved in the project that made the construction of the arena possible.

“When I first came here, we were talking about a renovation in the Joyce Center,” said Jackson, who has guided the program to two conference titles and a berth in the 2008 Frozen Four during his five-year tenure. “With Jack’s [Swarbrick] foresight and Tom [Nevala] and everyone involved in pushing for this to happen, waiting an additional year to have a new facility is something that is going to have a tremendous impact on the future of our program, and we’re very proud of that.”

Jackson also thanked the Monogram Club and all hockey Monogram winners that contributed both time and financial contributions to the facility project.

Junior left wing Billy Maday (Burr Ridge, Ill.) was chosen to represent the 2010-11 Notre Dame hockey team on the podium, and spoke for his teammates, who were also in attendance.

“You have provided us with a top-of-the-line facility that will develop great hockey players and great people,” Maday said. “We understand how much effort was devoted to this project and we will not take it for granted. We have no choice but to work as hard as we can on and off the ice.”

Notre Dame Athletics Director Jack Swarbrick spoke last at the ceremony, and touched upon how important the Compton Family Center will be for the Michiana community.

“There’s a limit to how much the community can use our dormitories and our classrooms and our laboratories, but the athletic facilities can be a special point of contact,” Swarbrick said. “I hope we win national championships with teams that train here and I hope we build new programs for our athletes and our students. But the ultimate success of this facility will be if we inspire a young boy or a young girl from the community to shoot higher, if we challenge them to be better people because they spend time on our campus. Then we’ve realized the potential of athletics at Notre Dame.”

After Swarbrick’s remarks, Nanni invited the families that made major contributions to the project to sign a ceremonial steel beam that will be used within the Compton Family Center. The process was an alternative to the traditional use of shovels in a groundbreaking ceremony, as construction has already commenced.

To wrap up the event, members of the Notre Dame Glee Club sang a medley of classic Fighting Irish songs.

— ND —