After years of planning, ground has been broken on Quinnipiac’s new athletic center, which will serve as the future home of the school’s basketball and ice hockey teams.
The $65 million athletic center is expected to open in January 2007, and will be known as the Hudson United Bank Center.
This first phase of the new campus on Sherman Avenue will serve as a permanent entry into the rest of the campus, which is slated to include a graduate education center, a student residential community, additional parking, faculty offices and more.
The athletic center is just the first phase of the $150 million economic development project of 230 acres on Sherman Avenue.
Quinnipiac President, John L. Lahey, made the announcement on Thurs. before a packed crowd of university officials, trustees, students, community members, the acting commissioner of the ECAC hockey league, which Quinnipiac is set to join, the head men’s and women’s ice hockey and basketball coaches and athletes in Alumni Hall.
“Forty years ago, Quinnipiac announced the plans for its Mount Carmel campus,” Lahey said. “Today we celebrate the ground breaking and development of the new Sherman Avenue campus.”
“I predict this campus to be as beautiful as the Mount Carmel campus, with unsurpassed views of Hamden, New Haven and Long Island Sound.”
Gordie Howe, a legendary hockey player, was also on hand to lend his support for the new athletic center.
Lahey announced that Hudson United Bank has pledged $5 million towards the building and also helped raise $25 million through a fund-raising campaign.
The 157,000 square foot Hudson United Bank Center, as it will be named after the Bank’s generous endorsement, is the first building to be developed on the 230-acre Sherman Avenue campus.
“Over the last 30 years, Hudson United Bank has generously supported Quinnipiac in so many ways, but none more meaningful and enduring than this,” Lahey said. “The Hudson United Bank name will now join a distinguished group whose generosity has helped Quinnipiac to become one of the country’s leading regional universities.”
Several sports dignitaries are lending their name to support the facility, including Pat Flatley, former N.Y. Islanders and Rangers forward, Jim Nantz, CBS announcer and Turk Wendell, a 1989 graduate of Quinnipiac and pitcher for the Colorado Rockies this past season.
“I’ve been in front of governors and presidents, but the last day-and-a-half has made me feel much better about myself and the people I’m helping out,” Howe said. “I’m proud as heck to have my name associated with the university and bank.
“To love what you do and what you are doing is ultimately important. Quinnipiac and Hudson United Bank obviously love what they are doing.”
Howe, who played in a record 29 all-star games, 32 professional seasons, scoring 1071 goals, with 2 world championships under his belt, before retiring at the age of 52, was presented with his own Quinnipiac hockey jersey. The name on the back read “Mr. Hockey” with the No. 9 that he wore in the NHL.
The state of Connecticut also named Oct. 7, 2004, Gordie Howe Day in the state.
The Hudson United Bank Center will feature two 3,500-seat arenas, one for basketball and one for ice hockey, joined by a common lobby area for concession stands and ticket sales. The center will also include offices, locker rooms, premium seating, weight-training facilities and a Quinnipiac athletics hall of fame.
Quinnipiac’s plan to build a new center played a large role in the Bobcats being accepted into the ECAC, which is the home to the Ivy League schools as well as colleges such as Colgate, RPI and Union. The Bobcats currently play at the 1,000-seat Northford Ice Pavilion, a 15-minute drive from the campus.
The new center will also be a significant upgrade for the basketball teams, which play at the 1,500-seat Burt Kahn Court.
For both the basketball and ice hockey teams, the new center will help to recruit athletes. Players that come to Quinnipiac as freshmen next year would get to play at the center for at least three years.
Hamden mayor, Carl Amento, said that Quinnipiac is helping to put the town of Hamden on the map.
“I am very pleased to be part of such a monumentous event for Quinnipiac,” Amento said. “This project will how a very powerful economic impact on Hamden, bringing 500,000 new visitors per year to the area, and more especially, the addition of new jobs to the Hamden area.”
“I express my sincere thanks to Hudson United Bank for their investment in the community and the university,” Amento said.