New Recreation Center Named for Former S.F. Mayor Joseph Alioto

You could almost hear the cries of "Play ball" as Saint Mary's College broke ground Thursday for a new baseball stadium and announced plans for a $30 million state-of-the-art Athletics and Recreation Corridor.

The centerpiece of the project is the 52,000-square-foot Joseph L. Alioto Recreation Center, named for the 1937 SMC alumnus who served as mayor of San Francisco from 1968 to 1976. The corridor, located on the west side of campus, will also include the new 1,500-seat baseball stadium and an outdoor plaza linking the new site to the Korth Tennis Complex and Cottrell Softball Field.

"This project will represent a significant improvement in the quality of life of this lovely campus," said Brother Ronald Gallagher, FSC, the college's president, as he looked out over the site of the new athletics corridor. The outline of the new ballpark was chalked on the lush, green lawn, and a stand to one side offered up popcorn and Cracker Jacks. "It will create a much-needed center for academic, personal and recreational activities," he said, and "contribute to the good health and successful competitive spirit of Saint Mary's."

Behind him, a huge artist's rendering of the athletic corridor showed the ballpark and the new recreation and aquatics center, which will feature:

an 8,000-square-foot fitness center with weight training and cardio areas
a pool designed to accommodate lap swimming, lessons and water sports
a climbing wall
multipurpose rooms for group fitness classes
outdoor patio areas for socializing, study and community events
three full-sized courts for indoor and intramural sports, including basketball, soccer and volleyball.

Gathering Space for the Community

Athletic Director Mark Orr said the complex will provide "a wonderful opportunity for students, faculty and staff to engage with each other." It will also be a boon to recruitment, he said, "not just for student athletes but for all students."

The College has raised $21 million so far for the project and will raise the remaining amount over the next year. The Kalmanovitz Charitable Foundation has provided the lead gift of $10 million for the Recreation Center. The sons of Raymond Syufy '40 and their wives - Raymond W. '84 and Ricki Syufy, and Joseph '87 and Michelle Growney Syufy '88 - are also major supporters of the project. The K.H. Hoffman Foundation, led by Kenneth Hoffman '45 and his daughter, Lisa Hoffman Morgan '81, is the lead donor for the ballpark.

Speaking to the crowd, Bernie Orsi '65, a trustee of the Kalmanovitz Foundation and Saint Mary's who worked with Alioto at San Francisco's City Hall, heaped praise on the man whose name will grace the recreation center and entertained the crowd with stories of Alioto's ability to defuse conflict during turbulent times. He said it was fitting for the recreation center to be named for Alioto, who was a mentor to him and was also instrumental in the lives of Paul Kalmanovitz and the elder Raymond Syufy, both of whom have given generously to Saint Mary's. Among the other guests at the groundbreaking were Moraga Mayor Karen Mendonca; Joe Alioto's widow, Kathleen; and trustees Thomas O'Donnell '60, Raymond W. Syufy '84, Louisa Garaventa-Binswanger '77 and Steve M. Smith '85, along with staff members from the student life, development and athletics departments.

Big Boost for Gaels Baseball

Jedd Soto, head baseball coach, said the new ball field, which will be open in time for next spring's season, will help Saint Mary's continue the legacy of Gaels baseball. And Dorsey Ek, a co-captain of the baseball team, said he hoped the new ballpark would "level the playing field and allow Saint Mary's to compete for a WCC championship." Baseball was the first intercollegiate sport played at Saint Mary's, dating back to 1889, and 62 Gaels have gone on to play in major league baseball, including Hall of Famer Harry Hooper, Von Hayes, Tom Candiotti and Mark Teahen, the third baseman for the Chicago White Sox.

First-year students Dominique Sala and Don La Barre were excited about the new recreation center. "It's a blessing for us. The pool looks pretty awesome, too," said La Barge, captain of the men's crew team. And Sala, who is working to put together a women's lacrosse club team, said she was thrilled with the project because the current athletic facilities on campus "are mostly for the athletic teams, but the new facility will be for everyone."

Teresa Castle
Office of College Communications

Photos by Shomari Carter '13

For more information, including artist's renderings and ways to contribute to the new Athletics and Recreation Corridor, visit the Athletics and Recreation Corridor website.

View of video about the new recreation corridor.

View a slide show of the groundbreaking ceremony.

Read about the groundbreaking on SMC Gaels and see photos of the ceremony.

Read the Contra Costa Times article.

Read about the project on CSNBayArea.com.

Read the Lamorinda Patch article.

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