Because of a big donation from Phillip Purcell, the dream can soon become a reality. Purcell, a Notre Dame alum, Trustee and retired chairman and chief executive of Morgan Stanley, is giving a gift of $12.5 million to the university to help them meet the costs. The total bill is $24.7 million and athletic director Kevin White said the university is close to $22 million in total donations. Construction will begin only when the project is fully funded. Purcell's prize: the arena will be named Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center.
"The program here should be a model for all universities to emulate," Purcell said on Thursday. "Notre Dame athletes know and understand the value of an education. At a time where many universities graduate 50 percent of their athletes, Notre Dame is over 90 percent. Last year, all of our programs had cumulative grade point averages of 3.0 or better. Now that's a national championship to be proud of."
"What a great day for Notre Dame," executive vice president John Affleck-Graves said. "We have the great honor of announcing in the Joyce Center today that will have a huge impact on our basketball and volleyball programs. The Joyce is more than an athletic facility. It's a place for the Notre Dame community and the Michiana community to gather.
"This facility is a tribute to Father Joyce. After 40 years, it needs a little facelift and that's what we're about."
The new features will make the final look radically different than the old Joyce Center. First, all the chairs will be new, blue backs seats. Gone will be the color cornucopia of the present-day arrangement of seats. Because of this upgrade and the bleacher seats going to chair back seats, the capacity will shrink from 11,418 to approximately 9,800.
"You're always concerned about the loss of seats," White said. "But at the end of the day, we feel we'll be in a position to create a very fun game, basketball, volleyball and in the convocation center."
Another major feature is a stadium club/hospitality area with a square foot area of 16,500. It'll be in the south end of the arena with a seating capacity of nearly 800 fans. Food service and restroom facilities are added luxuries in this area. White likened it to the fifth floor of the Notre Dame Stadium press box and noted that some of the seats will be reserved.
Other upgrades inside include new, fixed concession areas and an increased number of women's restrooms and handicapped seating options. The big feature outside will be a new, two story addition on the south end of the current structure. The second floor is the new stadium club. The first floor will offer ticket offices, a varsity shop, a new main entrance and lobby between Gates 8 and 10.
"Purcell Pavilion represents, in my mind, the rich tradition and legacy within the Joyce Center by creating a fan-friendly, state-of-the-art facility," White said. "The beneficiaries will be our student-athletes, our tremendous student body, the Notre Dame family and visitors in general."
There is no firm timeline as of yet. This is because the funding is not yet complete. White's intent is ASAP and as soon as the $24.7 million goal is achieved. Also not complete is the final design of the new facility. At the press conference, Notre Dame had four large easels conceptually depicting what the new arena would generally resemble.
Men's basketball coach Mike Brey had a large smile on his face. He has to be pleased that his home arena will be a more attractive venue for potential recruits and ticket-holding fans. Brey said he has smaller drawings of what the place will look like in his office and the basketball office lobby to entice recruits with when they visit on campus. The new digs can only help in the process.
"They're excited," Brey said of the recruits' response. "When you walk into our basketball office, with what we've done that and the theme of it, big-time commitment comes across. When you're sitting there talking about the arena, you're talking about understanding the league we're in now and we have to go for it."