The soles of Associate Athletic Director Eric Guerra's shoes are covered with dust, but he's all too happy to wear a little soot these days. For him, it's a reminder of the progress being made over at Connolly Center as it undergoes the most significant renovation in its history.
Fresh off the latest of his many visits to Connolly of late, Guerra reports that the project is going well. Demo is completed and the interior spaces are starting to take shape. Project completion is targeted for the end of the fall term. Sure there's been an unexpected discovery here and there, but nothing out of the ordinary for a building constructed in 1969. "The contractor and subcontractors are working very hard to stay on schedule," he says. "We have a very good team. Everyone is solution-oriented."
Home to Seattle U's women's basketball, volleyball, swimming and recreational sports, Connolly is being renovated to ensure an equitable experience for student-athletes under Title IX. The university is investing in the project as part of its five-year commitment to gender equity in athletics, which began in 2011, and has also included redevelopment of Logan Field at SU Park.
Enhancements include seating and signage upgrades to the North Court, reorienting the basketball court with chairback seating on three sides of the court-creating a more intimate u-shape viewing experience-swapping the location of the men's and women's locker rooms, upgraded concession stands and visitor spaces and a new videoboard that will enable additional sponsorship opportunities and enhance the fan experience.
This commitment to Title IX, Guerra says, goes hand in hand with Seattle University's mission of educating leaders to build a more just and humane world.
And yet while the student-athlete experience is the focal point, Guerra is quick to add that the project, all along, has also been envisioned as having the companion benefit of enhancing all visitors' use and enjoyment of the building. As if leading a walking tour, Guerra-very enthusiastically-paints a picture of what it will be like to enter and move through the renovated building. A big element of the transformation will be a pavilion that is being constructed to the north side of the building.
The pavilion grew out of a need to more efficiently and cost-effectively bring fans to the second floor, and yet, the new structure, Guerra believes, will be "an iconic element." In a style similar to the façade of the Eisiminger Fitness Center, with textural accents that incorporate graphic treatments and lighting, the pavilion is intended to enrich the visitor experience and inspire pride in being a Redhawk.