St. John’s University has added Carnesecca Arena to its summer to-do list.
The athletic complex is set to receive $5 million worth of interior renovations this summer, Director of Athletics Chris Monasch announced on April 8. The changes to the former Alumni Hall will include a brand new playing surface, the addition of 800 chairback seats and a revamped lobby with new ticketing areas.
The announcement means Carnesecca Arena will join a slew of recent campus projects to be undertaken by the University, including the renovating of St. Augustine Library, the addition of both on-campus and off-campus dorms and the erection of a new university center.
“It’s great for the University,” men’s basketball head coach Norm Roberts said. “I think the University has done a great job improving our campus. This is just going to add to it.”
The addition of chairback seating in the lower bowl of the stadium will not compromise the building’s 6,000-plus capacity, according to the University’s Athletic Communications department. Courtside seating will also be available for “St. John’s most generous benefactors.”
Redoing the lobby will mean ticket areas, which are currently only located inside the arena, to the East end of the building and providing exterior windows for fans to purchase tickets.
The renovations are being promoted by the University as a way to improve the overall experience of those in attendance without compromising the intimacy of the arena.
Roberts said that, although the formal announcement was made just last week, the plans to revamp the 47-year-old home to St. John’s athletics, was “something [they] had been thinking about a long time.”
Roberts said this project, as well as the other current campus endeavors, had potential for positively impacting his ability to recruit for his program and to help his team to compete in the Big East conference.
“Kids all want to see shiny and new,” he said about recruits. “I think kids have seen how this campus has grown.”
The commencement of the second phase of the $30 million project was made possible by recent contributions of $5 million and $1 million to the University’s Carnesecca Initiative, the major fundraising effort to finance the building’s improvements.
The Carnesecca Initiative is run by former St. John’s All-American Mel Davis. The first phase was the completion of the arena’s 4,400 square-foot Student-Athlete Center for Excellence which was dedicated last October and houses the Student Development for Athletes program.
Future phases of the renovation plan include renovating of the locker rooms and coaches offices. Changing the arena’s exterior fa√ßade to match that of the adjoining Taffner Field House – the basketball training facility completed in 2005 – is also in the works.
Aside from being the home of both the men’s and women’s basketball teams, Carnesecca Arena is also the home to the Red Storm fencing and women’s volleyball programs.