By MOHDSHOBAIR HUSSAINI
Sports & Health Editor
As students return to the Rose Hill campus for the start of the semester, some may realize a few changes in Fordham athletics. And no, there haven’t been any new additions to Fordham’s currently extensive number of Division I National College Athletic Association (NCAA) teams. Instead, the Rose Hill Gymnasium underwent a series of renovations which completed the first phase of the renewal project which was announced earlier in the year.
The renovations are part of a two-phase project. The first phase involved replacing all the lower level seating. Specifically, new bleachers were installed for the seating reserved for students. Chair back seats were also put in behind the team benches.
The purpose of this is to create a better game-viewing experience for fans who attend men’s and women’s basketball as well as volleyball games. Dave Roach, Fordham University’s Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, agreed by stating, “The [gym] looks sharper. It will be a more comfortable atmosphere especially in the seating behind the team benches, which are now chair back as opposed to bench seats. [Overall], we’re hoping to sell more tickets and season tickets.”
The second phase of the renovation project will commence next summer granted the proper funds have been raised. Next fall, students can expect a new state-of-the-art wood surface replacing the existing hardwood in the gym. Additionally, a hospitality suite will be installed in the upper balcony of the Rose Hill Gym. While the historic venue’s name will remain the same, the court will be renamed the Frank McLaughlin Family Basketball Court.
The name change will be in honor of Frank McLaughlin, who had a distinguished career at Fordham, graduating as a member of Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’53. He later served as the athletics director at Fordham from 1985 until 2012.
The project is expected to cost a total of $2.5 million. It should be noted that the renovations are being performed solely through fundraising by donors. Suffice to say, students won’t need to worry about tuition money being used towards the renovation project.
The Rose Hill Gymnasium renovation project is quite timely and long due for a facelift. The 3,200-seat arena is the oldest on-campus venue used primarily today in NCAA Division I basketball. In fact, the historic gym has seen over nine decades since its opening in January of 1925.
The age and size of the Rose Hill Gym may portray it as outdated in comparison to Fordham’s other Division I counterparts. However, when entirely filled up, the arena can create quite the nightmare for any opponent. These renovations are an attempt to maximize on the gym’s size by attracting a full-capacity crowd each game. Mr. Roach believes, “When the Rose Hill Gym is at capacity, it’s a great home court advantage and that’s what we’re looking for and hoping to get this year from our students, season tickets holders, alumni and fans.”
The Rose Hill Gym renovations can also be an opportunity to attract more recruits into the Fordham Athletics program. Mr. Roach stated, “With recruiting, when we have a game and bring recruits on campus, we need to have a lot of our students and need to have a great crowd and a great atmosphere.”
With the newly installed bleachers for students, Fordham students can look forward to an improved experience in cheering on their fellow Rams. With that said, a more comfortable viewing experience may be all that’s needed to attract a great number of alumni and fans to each and every one of the Fordham men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball games.