Friday, September 14, 2007

Mr. Ambassador

Had that dream again ... you know, the one where you're looking for the room your final exam is in but you don't know where it is and you didn't go to the class all semester but it's too late to drop the class? But it always seems worse when I have it, because in addition to looking for the exam I know about, it's always Tuesday in the dream, meaning I missed at least one exam I didn't know about. Fell asleep in front of the TV, and "Saved by the Bell: The College Years" was on when I woke up, so that might have done it.

Anyway, NDGravy went to an Alumni Club meeting last night, and usually the best info comes out of those Q&A's, especially when Doug Marsh is involved. Since posts age off NDN after a while, I want to make sure what he said gets saved:

Doug Marsh was there to talk about construction on campus. I talked with him briefly at the end of the night and here is what he had to say regarding construction at the JACC:

1. The expansion of the South Dome will begin next fall. This will include the new entrance where current Gate 10 is, as well as the ticket box office, etc.

2. After commencement after the 2008-2009 season, the entire arena make over will occur. This will include moving seating court side (including students?) and moving the press up to a press box area. All chairs will be replaced and made a uniform color at that time. This should be complete by October 15 for basketball practice for the 2009-2010 season.

3. $15 million for hockey is first "real" gift. They still need another $15 million to get to the point of doing the new arena within arena in the North Dome. Of course, I don't quite know how much knowledge Marsh has on the actual fund raising, but he believed the North Dome was two years off.

4. With the space left in the North Dome, plans are currently there to start fund raising for practice courts only after the hockey arena is finished. So I am guessing 3 -4 years out.

I am not going to act like I am an expert or have any real knowledge about what is going on, but that is what I got from Marsh at the end of a presentation he did regarding construction of campus. Thought I would pass it along as it is very pertinent to the current topic of conversation.

Pertinent indeed, and very much worth discussing.

The South Dome project will have multiple phases. I'm not surprised the exterior phase will start first, since that can go on independent of any other events going on at the arena. Unfortunately, it's also the phase I find to be the most superfluous to the true needs of the program, but c'est la vie.

On the one hand, I'm glad the interior makeover (the meat of the project) will start in reasonably short order. I'm concerned, however, they believe they can wait until the third Sunday of May to start and yet still expect it to be finished by October 15th. I don't imagine replacing the seats would take a long time, but there's also the task of putting permanent seating in place of the bleachers, as well as creating this "press box area" (which would have to be much larger than the crow's nest seats behind Section 101, and all the other things supposedly in the plan. That's all going to get done in five months?

Five months is not a long time for a renovation that is supposed to make a huge difference in the appearance of the Joyce Center. As comparison, Stanford's $30m renovation of their Maples Center in 2004 (which, to be clear, created an excellent space) started on March 1st and took nine months. While they finished slightly ahead of schedule, it's always better to be safe than sorry. What happens if things run long or the plans change? It's not like you can suddenly move home basketball games. I had figured ND would ask the BE to front-load the home schedule that season to enable the earliest start date possible and move graduation activities to the Stadium or Century Center for one year. God bless 'em if they can get quality work done in that time, but it's going to remain a concern.

On to the last point. Again, on the one hand, the fact that the fundraising arm of the projects knows how necessary practice facilities are is a good thing. However, I do not like the statement that fundraising for those facilities won't even begin until the hockey work is complete (assuming that's true). That's incredibly short-sighted. I understand not starting construction, but not even starting the fundraising? Considering this group took eight years to get the original project funded, I really don't want to wait another three to even start asking for money for an even more crucial effort.

But as the old saying goes, ask and ye shall receive. No sooner did I begin typing this section, than former hoops walk-on Khadaffi had a brilliant suggestion:

Mike Brey has actually been quite good about trying to build a sense of camaraderie among alums of the program. During football season (a tip of the cap to the reality that very few basketball alums will trek to So. Bend during the winter -- and certainly not en masse), MB hosts gatherings. But MB has a day job. He is not and should not be the lead fundraiser. The recent tribute to the top all-time players (many were named by you) was also a good event. There remains a need for a pied piper -- someone within the University framework who can work with Mike Brey and the fund-raising infrastructure.

A truly excellent suggestion. And I have the perfect guy in mind: LaPhonso Ellis.

All things equal, the best candidate for that position would be a former coach, preferably retired. Unfortunately, ND isn't in a good position there. Digger tends to be either incredibly popular or incredibly unpopular with folks, and a polarizing figure such as he would be a bad choice. John MacLeod is still employed in the league, and isn't a good candidate for such a position anyway. Matt Doherty barely had a cup of coffee with the program, and all the other possibilities are deceased. So that route isn't available.

If it's going to be a player, Phonz is, as the radio ads say, the biggest no-brainer in the history of Earth. He carried the flag for ND in the NBA for years during the Decade of Dereliction on campus. He's already involved with the program via his radio gig. He's an incredibly engaging personality who seems like he'd be at home in a boardroom, a classroom, or a living room. He represents the best ND has to offer both on the court and off, and if someone like him can't sell the virtues of ND's basketball program, no one can.

The various SNAFUs with the current Joyce Center project have shown how badly ND basketball needs an ambassador. I can't think of anyone I'd rather have in the job than Phonz.

Labels: ,


Anonymous SB Jimbo said...

Nicely written.

While I agree Phonz would make a great candidate, I think Swannie would be an even better one. The fact that Harold's an ND employee and on campus everyday puts him in a great position to tackle this issue from both sides of the spectrum.

Phonz is an former NBA player who can relate to other former ND NBA players. But there are more ND players who didn't play in the league, and I think they might better relate to Swannie.

9/14/2007 09:45:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home