Connolly Center’s north court is set to undergo new renovations, with the focus being to improve the game-day quality of women’s basketball and volleyball.
The project, which will reorient the court to run north to south as opposed to its current layout of east to west, was in discussion for the last few years on campus. Restroom and concession upgrades will also be made, with the capacity of the north court set to remain at 999.
Connolly Center, which opened in 1969, has seen various upgrades over the years, but as Seattle University has reignited its athletic traditions, Associate Athletic Director Eric Guerra feels that the court must also keep up with the times.
“As we evolved as a Division 1 program, as we’ve returned, we need the building to progress and mature with us,” said Guerra.
The renovations will include all new chair back seating that will run the length of the sidelines, and new bleachers on one end zone. The new seating arrangement will give the court a “U” shape that will enclose the athletes and give a more meaningful experience during games.
The renovations come as part of the University’s five-year gender equity plan commitment, which also included the renovations made to Logan Field that were completed in 2012. Apart from Women’s athletics, Guerra hopes the renovations will impact a larger part of the Seattle U community.
“We hope that any student that goes into to shoot baskets, or play in intramurals at north court, has a great time, and [that] they also love to be in the space and feel excited about it,” Guerra said.
Sophomore Theo Turner, who plays for the Men’s Basketball team, felt that the post-season games played at Connolly Center were a great way to get more fans to the game.
“It was more compact [compared to KeyArena] so the energy and the atmosphere was a lot better. We had loads of students there so the atmosphere was crazy,” Turner said.
After a victory against Pac-12 opponent Colorado, the liveliness that the men’s team enjoyed is something that Seattle U athletics hopes to relive each and every game for the women’s team.
The rennovations will also include a new scoreboard, which Guerra said would open the door for new sponsorship opportunities, fan messages, and on screen replays during games.
Since Seattle U’s transition into Division 1 athletics, on-campus sporting events are a large part of building a community within the school. Though men’s basketball plays at KeyArena at Seattle Center, and men’s baseball at Bannerwood Park in Bellevue, the on-campus experience of going to sporting events is something Guerra feels benefits a larger scope of a university’s community.
“[With on campus athletics] you learn to win together, to lose together, to get up together. And when you have a community that does that, then it makes your community stronger, it makes your campus stronger,” Guerra said. “It helps shape identity, it allows your students to have an avenue to get involved and connect with friends, and feel connected to institutional pride.”
The project had to gain approval from different departments throughout campus, with the Board of Trustees having the final say in the matter.
As both women’s basketball and volleyball vie for WAC championships next year, they will do so on a surface that reflects Seattle U’s commitment to athletics.