At Seton Hall University, the talk of the new basketball practice facility doesn’t stop after mentions of a new court, new locker rooms and new strength and conditioning rooms.
And it doesn’t stop with the mention of new lounges, offices and film rooms.
All of this is just leading up to what the school hopes the facility will bring: the ability to compete for a spot in the Final Four and a national championship.
The school, which made the formal announcement earlier this week, said it aims to break ground this summer on a facility located within the Richie Regan Recreation & Athletic Center on the South Orange campus that it hopes will greatly enhance the student experience for a new generation of student-athletes.
Athletic Director Bryan Felt certainly shared that sentiment.
“Our practice facility project marks a new era for Seton Hall basketball, an era that will build upon the tremendous success our basketball programs have had over the last decade,” he said.
“With the new practice facility and the enhanced women’s basketball facilities within Walsh Gymnasium, we strive to equip our student-athletes with the resources they need to flourish at the highest level of college basketball and compete for conference and national championships.”
Current men’s basketball head coach (and former star player) Shaheen Holloway was quick to agree.
“We’re in a new era of Seton Hall basketball, and, with that, we need to bring out the best in our players,” he said. “The new basketball practice facility is very much needed so that we can continue to recruit and develop players capable of helping our program win at the national level. I’m eager for the Pirates family to get behind us, get behind this project and help us win in this new era.”
In many respects, that era already has begun, both on and off the court.
The team has played in five of the last six NCAA Tournaments, getting to the second round in 2018. It’s aiming to bring back its glory years — a trip to the title game in 1989, the Elite Eight in 1991 and the Sweet Sixteen in 1992 and 2000 (when Holloway led the way).
Off the court, the school is in the middle of a 10-year master plan to dramatically improve athletics and recreational facilities for the entire community.
This includes the renovation of historic Walsh Gymnasium completed in 2021, which now provides a better experience for women’s basketball and women’s volleyball student-athletes and fans.
President Joseph Nyre is all-in.
“The Pirates are a unifying force on our campuses, bringing our community together to share our collective pride,” he said. “The new training facility will help them climb in the rankings, attract talented recruits and give fans worldwide new reasons to cheer.”
For these reasons and more, Seton Hall plans to direct meaningful resources to this effort, including private philanthropy and a portion of bonds secured at historically low interest rates. The university has already received several generous donations, including from Pat Murray and Mary Ann Pfaff Murray, Jim O’Brien and family, Al Frungillo and family, Joseph Torcivia and family, and Bruce Tomason. Seton Hall will continue to prioritize building-fund contributions in the coming months.
“We are very grateful for the enthusiastic response from benefactors who share Seton Hall’s vision and value its forward-leaning strategy,” said Jon Paparsenos, vice president for university advancement. “We are not yet there. Additional support from alumni and friends will be essential to delivering a practice facility of the highest caliber to our campus community.”
The school has contracted with Cannon Design, the architect for recent projects such as Virginia Tech’s baseball stadium, Maryland’s football practice facility and Southern Indiana’s basketball arena, and plans to break ground this summer.
The facility also will be of benefit to the women’s program, head coach Antyony Bozzella said.
His program will see significant upgrades to its Walsh Gymnasium spaces when the practice facility is complete.
“The new basketball practice facility will open significant space for our program and provide us with a tremendous opportunity to modernize and expand our current footprint around Walsh Gymnasium,” said Bozzella. “It’s a capital improvement that will undoubtedly advance the student-athlete experience for both programs.”
That’s the goal, said Monica Burnette, vice president of student services.
“A strong athletic program really helps to build Pirate pride and an affinity for Seton Hall,” she said. “It really promotes school spirit and unity.”