Connolly Center gets a Face Lift

En route to fulfilling a five-year gender equity commitment, Seattle University is working towards completing renovations for the Connolly Center Complex that began over the summer. The Connolly Complex has been the university’s main athletics building since its construction in 1969, and its renovation will mostly be focused on the North Court, where both women’s basketball and volleyball games are held, and on a custom pavilion entrance.

The renovations are the final step in a five-year Commitment to Equity plan, adopted in 2011, that also included the redevelopment of Logan Field in Seattle U Park across the parking lot from Campion Hall. The construction going on within the Connolly Complex specifically addresses Title IX requirements for intercollegiate athletics by enhancing the experience of student athletes, as well as that of fans.

“In complying with Title IX, there are standards that [the University] must follow, and ways in which you compare the experience of the various student athletes. So, as we look at the gameday experience for women’s basketball, we’re looking at the quality, condition, and ambiance of their environment,” said Eric Guerra, the Associate Director of Finance and Compliance at Seattle U. “The Title IX standards have really driven everything that [the University] has done.”

The Connolly complex renovations specifically address locker rooms, practice, and competitive facilities. That is, the improvements being made are designed to provide a more equitable student athlete experience along gender lines, by improving access to locker rooms, and facilities used primarily by women’s teams at Seattle U.

The improvements include, but are not limited to, seating and visual enhancements to North Court, as well as improved locker rooms, and spectator amenities. Additionally, the renovations will include a new, custom entrance space.

“The [entrance] pavilion is custom, you’re not going to find it anywhere else,” said Guerra. “We will be able to light it red, to give that end of campus the energy and excitement that we’ve begun to see more of with Logan Field, the O’Brien Center, and what Championship field has become.”

The improved, $8 million facility should be open for use as early as mid-December, however, construction is projected to continue into mid-January.

At the moment, teams are taking steps to give space for the renovations. Interior spaces are a priority, given that the university is looking to return the teams that use the facility “back home.” The women’s basketball team will be on a bit of a road show, playing home games at Key Arena, Bellevue College and the ShoWare Center. Meanwhile, the volleyball team will spend the 2015 season at Seattle Academy. It may be a hassle, but student athletes are maintaining a positive attitude throughout the process.

“It’s an inconvenience at present, if only because we have to change on the pool deck,” said Michael Cox, a junior on the Seattle U swim team. “But that’s a small price to pay for the improvements they’re making to the facilities.”

Will may be reached at [email protected]