In our ever-expanding and flourishing society, universities and academic institutions across the country are constantly looking ahead to plan new projects and improvements on campus.
Fairfield is similarly trying to expand the University’s facilities and programs to compete with other rigorous academic institutions, especially with the school’s call to action through Fairfield Rising.
For the past eight years, Fairfield officials have discussed and generated plans to rebuild a main part of Fairfield’s campus: Alumni Hall.
Opening in 1959, Alumni Hall was an arena that was home to the Fairfield Stags men’s and women’s basketball teams until 2002, when the men’s team began playing home games at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn.
Alumni Hall has acted as host to many political and musical events, and also annually hosts the Fairfield University Baccalaureate Mass, as well as Fairfield College Preparatory School’s Commencement Ceremony.
The venue is also home to Fairfield’s own “Red Sea Madness” and many other sporting events, which draw significant turnouts among the student population. All of these events result in Alumni Hall being, despite its many outdated features, in constant popular demand. Therefore, many school officials have sought to rebuild mainly due to the lack of space and cramped conditions inside.
Associate Vice President for Facilities Management David Frassinelli stated that the University’s plan to rebuild around the year 2021 was on the table for quite some time.
“There have been discussions about Alumni Hall for as long as I have been with the University, which is eight years,” said Frassinelli. “The more recent plans have been evaluated over the last few months.”
Frassinelli also mentioned that the main proposal for the rebuilding is to update and increase the size and seating in the arena.
“The current Alumni Hall was built in the late 1950s and still has steam heat. It seats about 2,700,” he said. “We determined that we would not be able to get the seat count up to 3,500 in the current structure, so the decision was made to consider a new building.”
According to Frassinelli, by increasing the seating count to between 3,500 and 4,500 seats, the facility would be in the range of 80,000 square feet.
Since the building was built in the late 1950s, there are plans for significant improvements in layout, technology and functionality.
Although it is too early in the process to assess any costs of the project, Vice President of Marketing and Communications Jennifer Anderson explained why the renovations would be a positive addition to campus.
“A new Alumni Hall would provide the campus with a central location to hold large events like concerts and receptions,” said Anderson. “[It would also] provide a more conducive location for events that might have to move indoors due to inclement weather, like graduation.”
Anderson also added that the new and improved Alumni Hall would be a “top notch home facility for our volleyball and women’s basketball teams.”
Sophomore Sarah Hoefner believes that rebuilding the venue will increase the amount of Stags in the stands.
“I’m very excited for the fact that the home basketball games could be right on campus and that these upgrades will help give an overall facelift to Alumni Hall,” said Hoefner.
While there is much high praise among students regarding the project, there are individuals who do not see the need for Alumni Hall to be rebuilt, but are open to the possibilities that it will bring.
“To be honest, I had no idea that there were plans to rebuild Alumni, and while I’m not quite sure it needs to be totally rebuilt from the ground up, I do think there are many outdated aspects to the building that could be fixed up,” stated Luke Melcher’ 19.
Sophomore Katherine Santo believes that the renovations will be a much-needed addition in promoting Fairfield Rising.
“Collectively, the University needs to have a venue where the entire school can come together to go support each other,” said Santo. “Between sporting events and speeches on campus, we need a location to fit the student body that students want to spend time in and really build up more school spirit.”