Sept. 12, 2008

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Purcell Pavilion, including the Joyce Center arena addition and renovation, will be held at 11:45 a.m. Saturday (Sept. 13), the morning of the Notre Dame-Michigan football game.

The first phase of the project, that begins this month, involves construction of a new three-story structure at the south end of the arena. That structure will include a new three-story lobby, the Notre Dame ticket operations (approximately 4,500 square feet) and a varsity shop to sell apparel and souvenirs (approximately 3,000 square feet), in addition to a new club seating and hospitality area.

Replacement of the existing Joyce Center arena seating, including installation of chair-back seating throughout the arena, is expected to take place after the University’s Commencement Exercises in May 2009. The entire project is scheduled for completion in January 2010. The arena is expected to re-open by mid-October 2009, in time for the start of the men’s and women’s basketball seasons and the end of the women’s volleyball season.

The University announced in October 2007 that this $26.3 million project had received a $12.5 million leadership gift from Notre Dame alumnus and Trustee Philip J. Purcell III, the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Morgan Stanley.

In November 2007, another major gift of $5 million from Notre Dame graduate Vincent J. Naimoli was announced.

A third lead gift was received from South Bend automobile dealership owner Mike Leep Sr.

The arena will be named Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center — and the new club/hospitality area (and two outdoor patios) will be named the Naimoli Family Club Room. The new varsity shop will be named the Mike Leep Sr. Varsity Shop.

The arena is the home for Notre Dame teams in men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball — as well as Commencement, concerts, Masses and other events. Approximately $68.5 million designated for new athletics facilities are part of the University’s current capital campaign, Spirit of Notre Dame. Plans for the bulk of these structures came out of an athletics facilities master plan that was created in 2000-01.

Already in place out of that master plan are the 96,000-square-foot Guglielmino Athletics Complex, a $23 million facility that opened in 2005 and serves as the home to the Notre Dame football program (including coaches’ offices, locker rooms for players and coaches, a new training room and an expanded weight facility for all sports), as well as a $2.1 million indoor golf structure, the Robert and Marilyn Rolfs Family All-Season Golf Facility that opened prior to the 2006-07 season adjacent to Notre Dame’s Warren Golf Course.

Melissa Cook Softball Stadium opened in April — thanks to a $3 million gift from Linda and Paul Demo, the parents of Melissa Cook, a former Irish softball player who was killed in a Chicago scaffolding accident in 2002. The stadium is located on the southeast corner of the Notre Dame campus, near the Eck Baseball Stadium.

Also opening recently was the LaBar Practice Complex – three new practice fields (two of them artificial turf) designed primarily for use by the Notre Dame football squad. When available, they also are used by the Notre Dame soccer and lacrosse squads as well as by RecSports programs.

Exterior changes to the Joyce Center that will begin taking shape this month include a new, three-story addition on the south end of the current structure. The third floor area will include the stadium club/hospitality area. The first-floor addition will include almost 4,500 square feet for ticket offices (including four exterior and 10 interior tickets windows), 3,000 square feet for the varsity shop, as well as a completely new main entrance and lobby situated between Gates 8 and 10. The new entrance will feature graphics and theming that highlight Notre Dame’s competing athletic programs.

Changes to the interior of the Joyce Center arena include:

  • New, blue chair-back seating from top to bottom of the arena, including all-new upper-arena sections. All seating will be replaced in the lower bowl (including platform seats), and the wooden bleachers in the upper bowl will be removed and replaced with treads and risers and permanent arena seats. The exchange of the bleacher sections for chair back seats will change the capacity from the current 11,418 to approximately 9,800.
  • A stadium club/hospitality area (approximately 16,500 square feet) in the south end of the arena, with a separate, private entry and with premium club seating for nearly 800 fans (that figure is part of the projected 9,800 capacity). Included in this area will be food service and restroom facilities.
  • New fixed concession areas, increased numbers of women’s restrooms and increased handicapped seating options.

The interior seating changes provide an opportunity to consider new options for Notre Dame student seating. Students currently sit in both lower- and upper-arena sections behind the basket on the east end of the arena.

Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams previously moved into new locker rooms and team rooms within the Joyce Center prior to the 1999-2000 season. Both teams’ coaching staffs moved into newly renovated Joyce Center office space during the 2005-06 season. The volleyball squad moved into a new locker room and team room in the Joyce Center to start the 2005 season.

Originally opened in December 1968 as the Athletic and Convocation Center, the Irish facility in 1987 was renamed the Edmund P. Joyce Center after former longtime University executive vice president Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C.

Among those notables who have appeared at the Joyce Center are five presidents – Jimmy Carter, George H. Bush, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan (twice) and George W. Bush (twice) — as well as entertainment legends Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Elton John and U-2.

The building was dedicated Dec. 1-8, 1968, with a weeklong series of events dubbed Performance Maximus – and including concerts by Andy Williams and Bill Cosby and a Notre Dame-UCLA basketball game.

— ND —