The AP’s Dan Gelston scored an exclusive interview with Villanova coach Jay Wright yesterday, and the focus of their conversation was the still-under-wraps renovation of the Pavilion.
Take a read through yourself, but here are the major talking points:
There’s still no formal timeline to begin renovating
"Earliest would be next year," coach Jay Wright told The Associated Press. "It could be year after that, year after that. But it's inevitable. And I think inevitable within the next two, three years."
That’s not exactly encouraging, but it probably relates to fundraising. Finneran’s gift is massive, but it wasn’t tied completely to the Pavilion and wasn’t going to cover the whole cost of the project. Have the dollars been slower to trickle in than expected? Maybe that’s why corporate sponsorship is (back) on the table.
Villanova may hit the building with corporate naming rights
Bill Finneran made the largest athletics gift in ‘Nova history ($22.6 million) earlier this year, but as Gelston notes, “Unlike some deep-pocket boosters, his gift didn't come with a naming rights demand, and corporate sponsorship is on the table.”
Dare we dream Wawa? Comcast? Whatever it might be, Finneran’s choice to relinquish any naming rights has opened up another possible revenue stream. Hopefully Villanova jumps on the opportunity. Xavier’s Cintas Center and Creighton’s CenturyLink Center are two of the best venues in the conference. That money can be put to good use.
Another option? Name specific areas (lounges, suites, locker rooms, etc.) within the building after large donors. Wright seemed to confirm it.
"I think it's (naming rights) going to be a strategy tied in with fundraising."
The Pavilion will be gutted
It’s been well covered just how poor the Pavilion experience is, and Jay Wright agrees that it is just not up to the standard set by other major basketball programs.
"It's not (a good experience)," Wright said, laughing. "We've got to gut it and we've got to make everything better. The fan experience, the sightlines, amenities, suites. It's got to be a major project. And it's got to be an all-basketball arena."
I’m still not personally betting on a major capacity increase (500-1000 is about all the existing structure can handle), but the game-day experience should be improved by leaps and bounds, and the school appears to be taking revenue generation seriously, which should help to secure the future of the basketball program.