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$52 million athletic center nears completion, to open Jan. 27
If Quinnipiac students ever wondered what it would be like to see a basketball game at Duke or a hockey game at Boston University, they will finally get a small taste on Jan. 27.
On that date, the highly anticipated TD Banknorth Sports Center opens its doors to the public, and with its opening, Quinnipiac will enter a new athletic era on top of York Hill.
The $52-million dual sports center, which features a 3,570-seat basketball arena and 3,286-seat hockey rink, is a marvel unparalleled by anything the university has seen before. It sits on a 240-acre piece of land that will one day be home to a new health science center and senior and graduate student dorms that will hold 1,800 beds.
But it is surely the athletic building that is the gem on the new campus. Although, the facility is on schedule for its original completion date, there is still much to do be done. An exclusive Chronicle tour of the sports center unveiled a massive construction undertaking that will one day become a Quinnipiac symbol.
Sawdust covered the floors. Some seats were missing their bottoms. Building equipment lay around every corner. And where the ice and wooden floors will soon grace the hockey rink and basketball courts, there rests only cement. But to anyone who has been fortunate enough to see this building since construction began, it will surely be an exciting and modern venue in which to watch events. A bronze bobcat statue will be erected outside the front entrance. Once inside, fans will see that the new building truly is an extraordinary facility, with seemingly every detail thought out. In addition to the general seating sections, there is the University Club, a private reception room which seats 135, and a President’s Box. Those who have access to the University Club will be able to walk out on a balcony and see downtown New Haven as well as Long Island Sound.
The center also boats five concession stands, two merchandise shops, eight restrooms, two elevators, 10 locker rooms, a weight room and an athletic training room. Each arena will don three scoreboards, with auxiliary scoreboards on each end and one main scoreboard hung over center ice and center court respectively.
Quinnipiac Athletic Director Jack McDonald is looking forward to the small advantages that come with playing at home, especially in hockey.
“Our hockey team will shoot at the end with the zamboni door for the first and third periods,” he said. “With the way the puck bounces off the zamboni door, that’s good for one or two goals a season.”
Another advantage is that the penalty box is right next to the Quinnipiac bench, which, according to McDonald, is also good for a goal or two per season.
An additional nuance that makes the hockey rink unique is the new system of boards used around the ice. The glass on top of the boards is built into a device that will have some give to it, so when a player is checked, the glass moves with him or her rather than staying rigid.
In the basketball arena, there are five rows of telescopic seats on each side of the court that can be pulled out to accommodate more fans. All seats in those rows are similar to those in the other sections.
The student section on the hockey side will be directly behind the opposing team’s net, while on the basketball side the students section will be behind the opposing team’s basket for the second half. McDonald hopes that even little things such as the location of student seating will help give the Quinnipiac teams that little push to victory.
Dedication week at the center begins on Jan. 27 and there is a full slate of games to accompany the opening. The men’s and women’s basketball teams play a doubleheader against Long Island University beginning at 12:30 p.m., while women’s hockey faces off against Mercyhurst at 7 p.m. that night. The men’s hockey team opens up at the center on Jan. 28 versus Holy Cross at 12 p.m. The first men’s basketball game will be broadcast on NESN and men’s hockey will open up on ESPNU.