LMU Athletics is taking the next step in a major expansion of its facilities, in hopes that the construction will modernize the program and bring it to the forefront of collegiate athletics.
The University is looking to build a new basketball and volleyball pavilion in what is currently the Hannon parking lot, according to Mason Stockstill, assistant director of media relations and communications in Marketing and Communications. Gersten Pavilion, the current basketball stadium, will be renovated and kept as a practice facility.
“Although we are making strides in enhancing our existing facilities, we are still behind many of our competitors,” said Craig Pintens, LMU athletic director. He noted how the current facilities' academic and training spaces are not big enough for the number of people using them. “With a new competition venue that can host basketball, volleyball and campus events, we can cease to use Gersten for events and renovate it into [a] useful practice facility,” he said.
“We’re definitely not building over any existing spaces,” said Stockstill. As for how the proposed location will affect those living in Hannon, Stockstill said, “it’s too soon to say … that impact is something we’ll be taking into consideration.”
Pintens shared his excitement for the new venue. “We will take the best elements from various sports facilities across the country,” he said. “Above all, we want to provide incredible sight lines and ensure the student and fan experience is the best it can possibly be.”
The new venue will seat up to 6,000 people, according to Stockstill.
Gersten Pavilion will also be renovated in the process. “We might spruce [the exterior] up a bit,” said Stockstill.
“Our teams would use it as a practice facility, and the space would include modernized training areas, locker rooms, offices and academic spaces,” according to the LMU website.
It will be at least two years before any construction takes place, especially because the University is waiting for the construction in East Quad to finish before beginning another project.
According to Stockstill, building this new venue is not without challenges. In working with the LMU Master Plan (the city-approved layout of the campus), the neighborhood council and the Los Angeles City Planning Department, the school has kept in accordance with some of the restrictions in place. The venue entrance cannot face the neighborhoods, and a new campus entrance can’t be built. There are also limits on height, sound, light, parking spaces and much more.
Additionally, LMU had to submit a proposal to amend the Master Plan to the City Planning Department and neighborhood council.
The amendment is not necessary for building the new venue, but it will give LMU “flexibility to renovate and keep Gersten Pavilion,” according to Stockstill.
The amendment will need to be approved by the City Planning Department, the city council and Mayor Garcetti. Stockstill said that none of this will likely take place before 2020.
The new venue will be paid for through fundraising—not student tuition—according to Stockstill.
These changes are “essential for the success of our athletic program and, by extension, the University as a whole,” Pintens said. “We want to provide a world-class student-athlete experience.”