USC Announces Plan For An On-Campus Events Center
Oct. 21, 1999
LOS ANGELES - USC unveiled plans of a multipurpose on-campus events center that will be home to the Trojan basketball and volleyball teams, as well as the site of various cultural events, USC athletic director Mike Garrett announced today.
"The University has begun a 10-year facilities construction program aimed at improving the quality of undergraduate life," Garrett said. "The events center fits in nicely with that goal because it involves so much more than athletics."
Construction plans and fund-raising efforts already have begun on the 12,000-seat center, Garrett said.
While a final decision on the site has not been made, current plans call for locating the facility on the southeast corner of Jefferson Boulevard and Figueroa Street, adjacent to the USC campus on the west and visible from the heavily-traveled Harbor (110) Freeway directly to the east.
The USC athletic department, which will be responsible for raising all money necessary for constructing the center, has already begun contacting major donors and corporations. A sports marketing firm will be hired to assist with securing a naming rights sponsor and other corporate sponsors.
HNTB, a company that has been involved with many of the world's top stadiums and arenas, has begun the programming phase of the project (developing architectural specifications). An architect and contractor then will be selected. Ground is expected to be broken once all funding is secured.
While a specific cost projection won't be known until the programming phase is completed, Garrett said that "the total project cost will be under $70 million. We will continue planning and designing the facility as we are raising funds."
It will be a true multipurpose events center, as Garrett expects the facility to host as many as 125 events annually, including concerts, plays, pageants, cultural events, NCAA playoffs and high school championships in addition to Trojan basketball games and volleyball matches.
Besides being the playing and practice site for USC men's and women's basketball and volleyball teams, the new facility also will contain offices and locker rooms for those sports. Plans also call for the facility to include retail space.
The on-campus events center is part of seven new facilities recently approved by the Board of Trustees. Within the decade, USC--named the College of the Year for 2000 by Time/The Princeton Review College Guide--plans to build a science and engineering center, a performing arts center, a student center, and an internationally-themed residential college on its main campus, and a neurogenetic research facility and a health care center on its Health Sciences campus.
"The events center is the most important project ever undertaken by the USC athletic department," said Garrett. "This has been a dream of the University for more than 30 years and I'm very excited about being here to help fulfill this dream. We've talked about it since the days of athletic directors Jess Hill and John McKay, and we're finally going to do it. It will be good for our athletic program and good for the campus.
"In addition, our players who compete in that new building will be supported by the best home-court advantage we've ever had. Our coaches couldn't be more excited.
"Financially, it will be an enormous help, too. With corporate sponsorships and outside events, we can create a revenue stream to help us balance our budget that has reached $33 million, expand our programs and enhance our Title IX efforts.
"But, more than that, the new facility will change the nature of our campus and its surroundings. It will improve the community."
Said USC president Steven Sample: "The center has the full endorsement of the USC Board of Trustees and the administration. The athletic department now has the green light to go out and raise the money."
Sample credited Garrett for bringing the often-discussed center to reality.
"Mike is the one who, over the last six years, has graciously but persistently made the case that we need this campus events center," said Sample. "This will make a significant difference in our ability to recruit coaches and student-athletes."
"An on-campus arena helps you get better players, which helps you win, which helps you get more good players," said USC men's basketball coach Henry Bibby. "It's a domino effect. We'll be able to go get those good local kids and keep them home."
Added USC women's basketball head coach Chris Gobrecht: "We've always had a great university located in a great city, but our lack of a good basketball facility has been a huge burden to our program. I have no doubts that this arena will elevate us to a status that will make us the elite program in our conference, if not the nation."
"This events center will have a tremendous impact on recruiting and our ability to host major events, like national- caliber tournaments, NCAA playoffs and even NCAA Final Fours," said USC women's volleyball coach Mick Haley. "This will help take our program to the next level and enable us to compete for our fifth national championship. It's nice to see USC give the women's volleyball program all the resources we need to do that."
Said USC men's volleyball coach Pat Powers: "This is a significant step forward. It will put us on--or above--par with the other teams in our league and in the nation. I look forward to the day where we can host some major volleyball events that USC richly deserves."
Under Garrett, USC athletics is in the middle of the biggest building program in its history. Since becoming athletic director in January of 1993, Garrett has overseen such projects as the $3 million Galen Center (a dining and activity center), a 3,000-square-foot addition to the weight room, a women's soccer practice field, expansion of the football practice field, six new tennis courts, the 3,000-seat Katherine B. Loker Track and Field Stadium and the renovation of baseball's Dedeaux Field.
The events center will be an addition to the Figueroa Street Corridor that is developing in downtown Los Angeles, stretching from Dodger Stadium and the Staples Center to the north to USC, Exposition Park and the Coliseum at the south end.
USC has played its men's basketball games in the 15,509-seat Los Angeles Sports Arena since that facility was built in 1959. The women's team currently plays most of its games in the Sports Arena and the others in the 1,500-seat on- campus Lyon Center (it previously played in the 1,000-seat North Gym in the campus Physical Education building). The men's and women's volleyball teams play in the North Gym and in the Lyon Center, respectively.