Kaplan Arena renovation to begin fall 2020

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Saturday, Feb. 1, during halftime of the men’s basketball game between the College of William and Mary and Hofstra University, College President Katherine Rowe and Director of Athletics Samantha Huge announced upcoming renovations to Kaplan Arena carrying an estimated price tag of $57 million. 

Construction is scheduled to begin in fall 2020, with renovations expected to be completed by October 2022. The community has been assured that the arena will remain open during the construction, and that the upcoming seasons  including volleyball, basketball and gymnastics  will not be affected by the work. However, the volleyball team’s training has already been moved to an off-campus facility. 

The arena, which first opened in 1971, will be redesigned as part of the Athletics Department’s Strategic Plan for 2025, a project instigated by Huge at the beginning of her tenure as director of athletics in 2017. 

The published Strategic Plan laid out the projections for the estimated $57 million project and states that the goals of the project are unapologetically bold 

“Over half of the department’s annual budget comes from student fees,” the Strategic Plan saysThere is a strong consensus across the university to limit and, if possible, avoid any further increases in such fees.”  

The Kaplan revitalization project will be funded largely through philanthropy and private donors. According to an overview of the project published on the College’s website by members of the Athletics Department, approximately $41 million has already been committed to date through philanthropy and other sources.  

The majority of funds which have already been donated originate from Katie Garrett Boehly ’95 and Todd Boehly ’96, as well as Jennifer Tepper Mackesy ’91 and D. Scott Mackesy ’91. The College will continue to seek funds for the project as part of the “For the Bold” Campaign, which concludes next year. 

“When my husband Scott (also a College student athlete), and I were approached, we saw this as an opportunity to participate in something transformational,” Jennifer Mackesy said in an email. We were excited to join Todd & Katie Boehly in their visionary support of the project.” 

The College has advertised naming and branding opportunities to encourage private investment. Among those areas on offer are the Student Section Lounge, the Ticket Office and Academic Area for a gift of $1 million. For gifts of $250,000 each, the men and women’s basketball locker rooms and volleyball locker room could be adorned with the donor’s name. 

Among the stated goals of the renovation are the improvement of facilities to enhance the experience of student-athletes, students and fans. 

By 2025, we will create game-day experiences for students and fans that reflect Tribe pride and upgrade facilities to allow our student-athletes to fully meet their potential and to provide a world-class game experience for fans,” the Strategic Plan says.  

By 2025, we will create game-day experiences for students and fans that reflect Tribe pride and upgrade facilities to allow our student-athletes to fully meet their potential and to provide a world-class game experience for fans,” the Strategic Plan says.  

To that end, the renovation of Kaplan was identified as a number one priority, as the space serves as the home of Tribe Athletics. The designs for the arena include a revamped student section located at what is currently the open end of the basketball court. Also included in the new student section is an exclusive student lounge for use during games and during the week. 

The changes to the stadium design, including the student-only fan section and the additional spaces beyond the court area will dramatically improve the student experience, and not just during games,” Mackesy said in an email.

The changes to the stadium design, including the student-only fan section and the additional spaces beyond the court area will dramatically improve the student experience, and not just during games,” Mackesy said in an email. I envision this becoming a hub of activity for all students, and I look forward to coming back in the Fall of 2022 to see it first hand.” 

The addition of a 36,000 square-foot “Sports Performance Center will include a new sports medicine space and full-sized practice courts for the basketball and volleyball teams. 

The renovated facilities will provide us with a better practice environment, which is very important, basketball player Rainers Hermanovskis 23 said. We will be able to practice more efficiently as we will be able to practice in our own facility. It is also nice that future student athletes will be able to use these modern facilities to improve their performance. 

Tribe Athletics also pointed to improved sports recruiting associated with the project, stating in an overview of the project published online that the improved facilities will help attract superior athletes.  

I think its not the deciding factor, Hermanovskis said. “But new and modern facilities for sure can help recruit athletes. It is important for recruits to see that William and Mary has a good environment where they will be able to flourish.
Central to the project is the concept of athletics as a key part of any experience at the College. 

“The complex will stand as a symbol of excellence,” Rowe said in the Strategic Plan. 

“The complex will stand as a symbol of excellence,” Rowe said in the Strategic Plan. “It highlights the university’s commitment to athletics as an integral part of the learning experienceKaplan Arena is a crossroads for campus and community. This renovation will help grow the sense of community in and around our campus and strengthen our national reputation.” 

While the renovation plans may contribute to the success of on-campus athletics, some students prioritize the academics and people in Williamsburg over any particular infrastructure. 

I think it depends on the person, Hermanovskis said. “But I did not care about facilities that much. The basketball staff and great academics at William and Mary were the factors that made me want to sign here.