You don’t have to be big to be a great home for college basketball. Take Cameron Indoor Stadium, home to the Duke Blue Devils, which seats 9,314 fans.
That’s about 500 fewer than the projected capacity of the soon-to-be-renovated basketball and volleyball arena in the Joyce Center.
In October, University officials announced a $12.5 million donation from Philip J. Purcell III ’65, a trustee and retired chairman and chief executive officer of the Morgan Stanley investment bank. Purcell’s donation will cover more than half the expected $24.7 million cost of the renovations to the 38-year-old arena, which will become Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center.
Plans for the extreme makeover place a premium on comfort and aesthetics. Blue, chair-back seats will replace all of the old seating from court level to the nosebleeds. Switching out the upper bowl’s wooden bleachers in favor of the new seats means a 14 percent cut in the arena’s capacity, which currently sits at 11,418.
Eight hundred of the new seats will be part of a new “stadium club/hospitality area” to be named for the family of Major League Baseball executive Vincent J. Naimoli ’59, who made a $5 million gift to the project fund. The club area, flanked by a pair of outdoor patios and accessible through a separate, private entry, will sit on the second floor of a two-story grand entrance to the center’s south end.
Downstairs, Fighting Irish fans will take their tickets at one of 14 new ticket windows and can browse through 3,000 square feet of blue-and-gold merchandise in the varsity shop.
Other aspects of what athletic director Kevin White has called a “pretty significant facelift” include new concessions counters, more women’s restrooms and additional seating for disabled guests.
Once finished, the work will culminate improvements to the basketball and volleyball facilities that began with upgrades to the men’s and women’s basketball locker and team rooms in 1999. The volleyball team received new locker and team rooms in 2005.
The Joyce Center project is part of a long-term overhaul of University athletic facilities first outlined in a 2001 master plan. The Guglielmino Athletics Complex and Rolfs All Season Golf Facility were both completed within the last two years, and plans for a new Melissa Cook softball stadium accelerated this summer with a $3 million dollar gift from the deceased former player’s mother and stepfather.
In accordance with University policies, a start date will not be announced for the Purcell Pavilion until costs are firmly established and the University has 75 percent of the money in its accounts.