As fall draws near, Fairfield University students and faculty have noticed the rapid construction of the new Fairfield University Arena and Convocation Center, standing atop the former location of Alumni Hall.

The arena’s overall name has yet to be confirmed. Although some students refer to the arena as “Arena 100” or “Convocation Center,” the official name at this time appears to be the “Fairfield University Arena and Convocation Center.” Certain areas of the arena will be named, however, according to the Deputy Director of Athletics Zachary Dayton.

 “The Office of Advancement has been working on all named spaces in the building and a complete summary of each named space will be visible when the building opens,” Dayton explained. 

“The name of the court will be George Bisacca Court in recognition of our former basketball coach and athletic director. The Alumni Hall court was dedicated to him in the fall of 2015 and the court name will be carried over to the arena,” he continued.

This project is yet another large construction undertaking Fairfield University has seen in the past decade.

Since 2016, Fairfield University has made changes, additions, and completed brand new projects like the Charles F. Dolan School of Business (2019), 42 Langguth Road (2018), the Leslie C. Quick, Jr. Recreation Complex (2016) and the Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing (2017) just to name a few.

The Convocation Center is just the next step in this process of keeping our campus up to date, with construction of the facility beginning in the spring season of 2021. According to a press release from Fairfield University, “Fairfield senior leadership, student-athletes, trustees, donors and others gathered at the site of the demolished Alumni Hall to officially kick off construction” of the new arena on June 28, 2021. 

The architectural firm Centerbrook has led the way for the planning effort on the Arena and Convocation Center, which is often abbreviated as ACC.

According to Centerbrook’s official website, they have defined the specs of the project as 85,000 square feet with 3,500 seats, being the home of “the Fairfield basketball and volleyball teams, as well as concerts, commencements and other larger on-campus events.”

Centerbrook, according to their website, has undertaken very well-known projects in both athletics and in higher education. The People’s United Center at Quinnipiac University and Reese Stadium at Yale University are just two examples of the style of architecture that their website outlines. 

The Skyline Group is another organization that is involved in the planning and design of the building. They are more centered, however, around engineering, technology and the overall telecommunications system for the building, according to their website. This also shows their design development and additional project approaches. 

The Aspire Group announced that they would be working with Fairfield University to work on the relationship between fans and pricing. Their market research will be a vital tool to “help best shape the fan experience at the new on-campus convocation center,” according to Aspire’s news page. With pricing, packaging and other marketing tools, Aspire plans to further market Fairfield’s brand. 

On June 23, Fairfield University Athletics announced an official partnership with the Aspire Group in response to their market research performed for the new Arena and Convocation Center. According to the press release on fairfieldstags.com,  “Aspire will establish an on-campus Fan Relationship Management Center (FRMC) and has hired Fairfield alumnus, Joe Cappucci [‘19], as its Director of Sales and Service”. 

Additionally, the same source indicates that Cappucci will take up the effort to establish a sports marketing presence on campus.  “With support from Aspire headquarters, Joe will hire and train the FRMC’s dedicated sales and service staff”, the press release reads.

The arena, when completed, will be a state-of-the-art facility that aims to not only upgrade the fan experience, but also the gameday experience of Fairfield’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as their volleyball team.

Although the general projection of  “Late Fall 2022” has been planned on signs around the site as well as through University communication channels, there is no specific completion date at the time. The timetable for the arena’s opening is heavily reliant on how the basketball teams’ schedules will play out; Dayton states that “Basketball schedules are not finalized at this time. Once the schedules are completed, the university will be able to release the date of opening for the arena”.

The basketball schedule is being worked around the arena’s progress, however, as to limit the number of games being played off campus. 

“The arena is on schedule for completion in late fall of 2022 and we are scheduling basketball games according to that timeline,” Dayton emphasized.

The facility will be completed with new locker rooms, training facilities and much more amenities than Alumni Hall previously carried. Fans who are being welcomed into campus through the front gate will be able to see a “spacious, open concourse level, looking toward a large beer garden [with] satellite concessions and access to seating that surrounds the court below’’ according to the same press release from Fairfieldstags.com. The arena, like the building before it, will feature the original University seal that was put in place in Alumni Hall.

The Arena and Convocation Center is by no means a cheap endeavor. In terms of costs, another press release from fairfieldstags.com outlines the fundraising information, which states that they have “project costs estimated at $45 million”.

The construction of the arena signifies a complete shift in momentum for the Fairfield Athletics fan experience. 

The excitement for the opening of the arena is building all around campus, from students to the athletics staff.

 “The establishment of a modern arena on the Fairfield University campus is an incredible inflection point in our institution’s history. I could not be more excited for the university community to enjoy a building of this caliber for athletic contests and university events,” Dayton stated. 

“Our staff is focused every day on maximizing this opportunity in regards to the fan experience and look forward to the building opening for the 2022-23 Fairfield Basketball season,” Dayton said.

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