Novans need a vision to get excited about. In athletics we need the same Ignite Change spirit that has improved the rest of the University (VSB and Engineering accolades, West Campus, landscaping renewal, main lot PAC transformation, etc).
A plan to renovate the Pavilion to fewer seats and a 10 year boat house effort for women's crew doesn't cut it.
The current sports admin needs a positive success in athletics to call their own. This signature project is a new basketball arena.
Here are some priorities for the Future of Villanova Athletics:
1) Make the most of the C7+. Anoint a top commish. Bring in the best regional programs to get us to a 10 to 14 team conference.
2) Let football simmer. We already blew our chances here. Let's just stay status quo in a holding pattern so that there is some foundation for a future administration from which to build.
3) Support LAX. Another perplexing move here from our AD in not supporting LAX with full scholarships. Why are we voluntarily at a disadvantage in LAX? Commit to excellence in LAX. It's a growing sport with broad benefits for the University.
4) Build a new basketball arena. This is the big project that the current regime could count as an athletics success. We have already reconfirmed hoops as the athletics focus far above any other sport, with a new conference aligned on hoops and repeated FBS football failures. This project is synergistic with the default athletics strategy.
What do the best target programs for addition to the C7+ have in common? They have 10,000+ on campus arenas.
In 1986 we opened the duPont Pavilion. It was ill conceived at the time with a low capacity and a poorly executed compromise to make it "multi-purpose". Over 25 years later, we still do not have a credible plan for improvement.
We seek national prominence in basketball, yet our arena is only 3rd best in the Big 5. Should we have a home court position that is at the bottom of the new conference?
The serious discussion on this topic has only been on the blogs over the past years. We have debated the challenges of the townships, the promises of the University to not add attendance on campus, the "no-fun" policies against game days, and the draw-backs to an expanded schedule at WFC.
While we have covered this in similar detail in the distant past, here it is again with hopes that we can generate some momentum behind a new arena as a better alternative to the $75M or $80M plan to renovate the Pavilion to 6,000 to 6,500 seats. The new arena should be 11,000+ including corporate boxes and have state-of-the-art amenities.
Suggested is an arena adjacent to campus, run by a separate entity, with Nova contracting most of its home men's games. There is a credible site adjacent to campus:
The proposed location is adjacent to campus, not on campus. This would allow a 3rd party to maximize total revenue for the project instead of "Nova only" events. These other events can benefit Nova student life due to the proximity to campus. The 3rd party management could better professionally manage tailgating activities and concession sales, similar to management at WFC. Concession sales are significant to other venues, such as those of Louisville and Cuse.
The proposed location relieves traffic from Lancaster and Ithan. Some believe the township will never allow expansion at Lancaster and Ithan. Some believe the University would never fight for it. Some believe the University has already committed that it won't expand there as a concession for the PAC project. One huge benefit of the proposed location is that it won't add to Ithan area traffic, it will reduce it. With two rail lines and direct access from the interstate this location is ideal for traffic management.
The proposed location was sold from the University to the township a few years ago. The site is not valuable for most other uses. The site is isolated from neighbors, from residences, and is completely bordered by the interstate and rail tracks. The project would generate considerable revenue for the township while sensibly and proactively addressing the usual concerns for the larger community. This project could be a positive compliment to the Main Lot / PAC project, reducing Lancaster Avenue traffic.
The project could include a common rail station for the high speed and R5 lines where the two lines cross. A tunnel could connect the arena site to West Campus, allowing for safe pedestrian traffic when desired, and a control point to restricting traffic from the arena site when desired. South Campus could access through the already established on campus bus routes to West Campus, or from the high speed rail line. Direct access over/underpass lanes from the existing interstate ramps could provide traffic flow without Lancaster Ave traffic interruption at that exchange.
Funding for the many non-revenue generating projects on campus has been provided. A $75M or $80M renovation of the Pavilion has been proposed. Let's not let the funding excuse be the automatic response to a higher profile athletics project that matches the prominence of our program and our aspirations.
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