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Details on Villanova’s proposed Pavilion renovations

Major changes are coming, and they’re pretty sweet.

Delaware Fightin Blue Hens v Villanova Wildcats Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Editor’s Note: The below has been gathered from conversations with multiple sources familiar with the proposed plan. Those plans are neither finalized, nor are they approved. Thus, this may differ slightly from the final plan.

Let’s start off with the simple stuff and reiterate some of the above. Yes, the plan was presented to the Board of Trustees last week. That included cost, design, timeline and fundraising updates.

Bill Finneran’s $22.6 million dollar gift is leading the charge, and came with a stipulation that this project be fast tracked in the school’s master plan. But the school is still fundraising (open you your wallets!), with the goal still being to break ground following this season and then re-open for the 2018-19 season.

On to the fun stuff.

The exterior renovations

The biggest - and best - change to the outside will be a redesign of the walkway down Ithan Ave. towards the Davis Center and Pavilion. I’m told a monument park that will celebrate the history of ‘Nova Athletics is in the works. Jumbo Elliott is getting some friends! That’s a cool (and IMO, long overdue) feature for the athletics program.

Next, the main entrance to the Pavilion will be moving. Currently, it’s located directly across from The Davis Center. It will be moving closer to the West side of the building, near the Swim Center, likely feeding in from the walkway down Ithan (more on that below).

Finally, the roof! Yes, the unique roof will remain, but will get what I think is an excellent update. The plan calls for glass panels to be installed at various points to give the building some natural light and the open air feeling from the inside. Think Hinkle Fieldhouse, as an example.

The interior renovations and amenities

Let’s address the big one. No, capacity will not be changing. This comes down to three things:

  1. The current footprint cannot handle it, so it would take a completely new building.
  2. The school explored this with Radnor, and it sounds like it would be another 5-6 year fight like it was for the Lancaster Ave. project.
  3. As discussed at the top, Finneran’s donation came with a mandate to fast-track this. So a long project wasn’t an option.

Get past this detail, because the rest of the interior renovation is pretty sweet.

Let’s jump back to the main entrance. That will feed into what is currently the big empty space behind the student section. That’s getting a major overhaul and will transform into an area with major concessions, merchandise, big screen TVs, bars, tables, etc. This will likely be above court level. Whether that means the court is getting lowered or this area is raised is unclear.

At the center of this? The plan is to install the part of the actual court from the Final Four in Houston, which was donated by an alumnus. An awesome touch.

On to the seating, which will still feature the ‘quadrant’ approach that exists today. No bowl, which again seems to be a limitation of the current footprint. No more bleachers though, and regular seats will be installed.

The big change will be with the students. The current student section will trimmed in size, with students being placed behind the opposite basket as well. We’re not sure if they’re equal in size, but it’s good to have them behind both baskets.

No, they won’t be moving courtside. The school looked at this, but it’s a big revenue hit on ticket sales since they can’t increase the capacity. I was torn on this, but I think it’s the right move long-term. You get the rowdy students at both ends instead of one which is a nice win.

Above the current student section will be a VIP lounge. Behind the new student section on the East side will be another high-end VIP lounge that you saw during the survey for season ticket holders and major donors. Access to these will likely depend on your donor level.

Some more various configuration changes - the current main entrance will be converted into the main locker room area, and there will also be a recruiting lounge added for visiting players and families.

Opposite from that, four more generic locker rooms will be added to support the other events (high school, etc.) that the Pavilion hosts annually.

From what I’ve heard, we won’t have luxury boxes available for purchase in the renovated arena.

There you have it. I’m sure there’s more detail to be learned, and things could obviously change. As I stated last week, I was not expecting much from this when I first learned of the plan to renovate and I was stuck on the capacity issue like most of you.

Now, I love about 90% of this. And I really love it for the cost at which they are executing it.

It’s clear the school has put a ton of research into this project, and is prioritizing their ability to maximize revenue to protect the future of this program, and the support of the rest of athletics.

Moreover, your gameday experience is going to be night-and-day from what it is today, and this provides Jay and staff the ability to showcase the Pavilion for recruiting purposes, not avoid it as they do today.

This is a big-time win for the school, the coaches and players, and the fans.