New field house set for September opening

The Taffner Field House, a new two-story, 38,000 square foot practice facility being built adjacent to Carnesecca Arena and overlooking Union Turnpike, is set to open in time for the originally scheduled date of September.

The structure is expected to include four full-size basketball courts, classrooms and study space for athletes, audio/visual rooms for athletic teams, locker rooms and new offices for men’s and women’s basketball and sports medicine along with weight training facilities.

“[The primary function of the new facility will be] for men’s and women’s basketball,” men’s basketball coach Norm Roberts said. “But half of it will be for recreation and the student body.”

The $12 million facility is named for the family of Donald and Eleanor Taffner, an alumnus and member of the Board of Trustees, respectively.

The new state-of-the-art practice facility, which many schools in the Big East already have something similar to, is expected to greatly aid coaches in recruiting, especially considering St. John’s does not have a large, scenic campus as many other colleges and universities do.

“I think St. John’s is really moving in the right direction,” Norm Roberts said, listing Belson Stadium, the Ballpark at St. John’s and Red Storm Field as beautiful facilities. “There’s so much growth on campus. … There’s a lot of renovations going on.”

Another renovation planned by Athletic Director Chris Monasch is the refurbishment of Carnesecca Arena, one of the older buildings on campus.

There is a small renovation planned for the building this summer that would include a 6,400 health center for student-athletes, as well as audio/visual rooms for sports teams.

But, in addition to those changes, there are other, more major renovations planned for the building once called Alumni Hall.

“They’re still in the planning stages,” Roberts said. “Chris Monasch definitely wants to do some things.”

Added Roberts: “I think it is something that’s needed. It’s something that school has wanted to do for quite some time.”

Roberts mentioned that there would probably be a committee set out to finalize what the new renovations will be, but said the school is in no rush.

“It’s all about timing,” Roberts said, citing the current construction of the Taffner Field House. “[Carnesecca Arena] a facility that’s used quite a bit. If you’re going to renovate, it’s not going to be able to be used.”