A new era in Quinnipiac athletics began Saturday, Jan. 27 with the grand opening of a $52 million sports facility that will be the new home for the men’s and women’s basketball and ice hockey teams. TD Banknorth Sports Center officially kicked off Dedication Week by opening its doors to Quinnipiac students, alumni and fans for a men’s basketball game against Long Island University. But before the doors swung open to let in the vibrant sea of gold-shirted fans, University President John L. Lahey, President of TD Banknorth Connecticut John Patrick and SGA President Jen Rosenbaum addressed the crowd in front of the 180,000 square-foot facility.
In front of the main entrance of the arena, the captains of the men’s and women’s ice hockey and basketball teams unveiled an 8-foot bronze statue of a bobcat, Quinnipiac’s athletic mascot. Once the doors did swing open, it was safe to say that there was a general feeling of amazement.
“I was speechless when I walked in,” freshman media production major Mike Laramie said. “I’ve been here for two hours now and I still can’t get over it. I’m glad we’re freshmen because we have three more years to see this place.”
Freshman entrepreneurship major and cross country runner Lindsey Pierret compared the new arena to some pretty impressive company.
“It looks really professional,” Pierret said. “I’ve only been to one professional basketball game, a Nets game, and this arena looks the same.”
The men’s basketball team emerged victorious in the inaugural game at the arena, defeating the LIU Blackbirds in overtime. The Bobcats made a grand entrance in their inaugural game at their new home, taking the court through blue and gold smoke and before a thunderous crowd of at least 2,700 roaring fans. Quinnipiac guard Adam Gonzalez scored the first points in TD Banknorth Sports Center history by hitting a 3-pointer, and proceeded to lead the Bobcats in scoring 21 points.
The basketball team’s current six-game winning streak gives sophomore math major Nikolay Aleksiev high hopes for the arena.
“It is going to help the arena a lot now that the team is getting better,” Aleksiev said. “The arena is also bigger than I expected it to be. I like it a lot.”
When men’s basketball coach Joe DeSantis was asked if his team’s first game at the new arena would be a distraction to his athletes, DeSantis swiftly responded by saying: “How can anything so perfect be a distraction?”
About 45 minutes after the end of the men’s basketball game, the Quinnipiac women’s basketball team hosted the women’s LIU team. The Bobcats lost, 69-65, in a contest that was close for most of the game. Quinnipiac forward Monique Lee scored a game-high 25 points en route to netting her 1,000th career point. A junior from Lynn, Mass., Lee joins a group of 13 other players in Quinnipiac women’s basketball history to have scored at least 1,000 career points. The Bobcats dropped to 11-7 overall and 5-4 in the Northeast Conference.
The women’s ice hockey team lost to the No. 1 ranked Mercyhurst College, 3-0, in a game later than evening that set a program attendance record with 1,714 fans.
Construction on the TD Banknorth Sports Center was completed after two years of work by Dimeo Construction. The facility includes 10 state-of-the-art locker rooms, a weight room, an athletic training room and two Bobcat merchandising stores.