With the fall semester of 2021 nearly coming to a close, students have noticed the increasing progress of construction on the brand new arena being built on campus in place of the former Alumni Hall. Since Alumni Hall was torn down in the spring of 2021, progress has been moving swiftly throughout this current academic year, with plans to finish the project for “Late Fall 2022” as stated by signs posted around the construction site.
Currently, the “Late Fall 2022” timetable is still on pace. “We have, ‘we’ meaning athletics, are in constant communication with Vice President for Facilities David Frassinelli as to that daily and weekly progress, and I think we are, as of today, really on target,” director of athletics Paul Schlickmann stated.
In September, the main framework was put up around the area that was previously cleared of debris in the summer months. A massive cement wall was put up as well, which separates the main area where the arena will be built and the top section adjacent to Loyola Drive where cars have parked. A fence was set up around the construction site, which allowed for a path in between the Barone Campus Center and the construction site itself. However, recently this fenced-off area was extended outward to allow for more vehicles to come in and out of the site. A large crane has remained in the middle of the project since September.
With this large-scale project, there have obviously been some difficulties, or “ebbs and flows” and Schlickmann put it. Citing supply chain issues for the construction team as one of the more frustrating parts of the process, he remained confident that November of 2022 will close out the construction of the arena, just in time for the new basketball season.
In October, more parts of the project could be seen coming together, with a new metallic structure being placed on top of the framework. Additionally, flooring was put in for both the second and third levels off of the ground.
However, November is when the project really began to take shape, with the entire set of steel beams being finished and connected on the other side. More cranes were added to the site. “I think you can even see some stairs being formulated now, so you can really see it taking shape and visualize all the nice pictures we’ve been staring at for a couple years,” Schlickmann commented.
As an update for December, the project has been quickly accelerating; As of Dec. 3, 2021, the northern truss of the roof was installed. With this large update to the construction of the arena, it looks as though the roof will be finished in no time.
With Alumni Hall gone and the new arena currently under construction, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as the volleyball team, have found new homes for the year. A new teraflex court was installed in the RecPlex Field House at the beginning of the year, where the volleyball team has played its home games. The basketball teams, however, are being hosted by Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. for this season, with shuttle buses being run to-and-from games.
Assuredly, however, this wait will be worth it in the long run for Fairfield’s athletes. Not only are the former amenities of Alumni Hall getting an upgrade, but some entirely new features will come out of the new convocation center as well. Equipment rooms, athletic training rooms and operations offices will all find homes in the new arena. The next steps of the project after the main outline are going to come together soon. “I think you’ll probably start to see the individual spaces or aspects of the building floor by floor begin to take shape,” Schlickmann said. “There’s a lot of things that are greatly enhanced, or just weren’t in Alumni Hall at all.”
As a volleyball player who will be playing in the new arena once it is finished next year, Morgan Doll ‘23 knows that the energy in the building will be far different from that of the RecPlex. “It’d be kind of nice to just have our own space and where we can focus on our stuff and not have all these distractions going on around us,” Doll stated.
Doll also noted how important the new offices and facilities will be in the future, since it will bring a new level of quality to how athletes train and play. “Another big plus for us especially will be that I think a lot of our team will be more inclined to go to the training room and get more help before games for our bodies,” Doll said. With new equipment and training rooms, athletes will be able to get the best care available right in the stadium, instead of walking back and forth from the Walsh Athletic Center.
While the stadium is set to be completed in the late fall of 2022, all we can do now is sit back and watch the progress unfold before us as the project continues to take shape.