One of the toughest places to play in the West Coast Conference (WCC) is about to get tougher. Saint Mary’s College of California announces plans for a new Student Athlete Performance Center and a renovated McKeon Pavilion, the home of the SMC Gaels. The new facility will be announced to fans at halftime during the SMC versus the University of San Francisco men's basketball game on Saturday, January 11 at 3p.m. at Saint Mary's College, 1928 St. Mary's Road, Moraga, Calif. 94556.
The estimated $13 million project features dedicated facilities for varsity athletes, including a weight room, training and on-site sports medicine areas, a new women’s volleyball locker room and athletic offices. Visiting teams will have to face even more boisterous fan support for the Gaels as the mad house in Moraga will add 500 new seats in the McKeon Pavilion.
The expansion was made possible by a generous lead gift of $1 million from Kevin M. Nagle, chief executive officer of Envision Pharmaceutical Holdings, a privately held company with nearly $4 billion in annual revenue. Nagle is also a minority owner of the Sacramento Kings and was part of the executive team that kept the NBA franchise in the Sacramento region. Through the generous gifts of Nagle and others, the College is close to the halfway mark of its fundraising goal for the athletic facility.
"Kevin Nagle is an extraordinary individual who recognizes the importance of state-of-the-art athletic facilities to the development of our student-athletes. We are extremely appreciative of his gift and believe his support of Saint Mary's athletics will move others to contribute to our success," said Saint Mary’s president James Donahue.
Donahue added that Nagle's gift was also made in recognition of the College's record of academic excellence within its athletic program. "Our student-athletes graduate at the second-highest success rate among all Division I institutions in California. That impressive mark of distinction reflects the importance of having a culture of student success at Saint Mary's. This year the academic rigor of our student-athletes was recognized by the NCAA, and now their achievements have been further acknowledged by Kevin’s generous donation.”
The parent of a Saint Mary's alumna and a longtime fan of the Gaels, Nagle said he has a deep respect for the College's commitment to an outstanding academic experience for its student-athletes.
"I think Saint Mary's is the gold standard of demonstrating how a college can have high academic standards and can still be very competitive at the same time. The best example is how Coach Randy Bennett can have a nationally competitive basketball program year after year and sustain high graduation rates. The College should be applauded for its commitment to excellence in its Division I athletic programs and its commitment to student-athletes excelling in the classroom. I am very proud and happy to support Saint Mary's with this financial gift," said Nagle.
The planned upgrade will bring the athletic resources at the College in line with other WCC institutions and colleges across the nation. The reboot of the McKeon Pavilion, which opened its doors in 1977, will include a variety of features to improve the fan experience, such as new video boards, private suites, a hall of fame and hospitality room, renovated concession spaces, new restrooms, a reconfigured lobby space and a new facade and courtyard.
Saint Mary's teams have won nine conference championships in the last five years and the men's basketball team has advanced to post-season play in each of the last six seasons, with four appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
Saint Mary's Athletic Director Mark Orr said the improved sports complex will create opportunities for an even better student-athlete experience. "The new dedicated varsity facilities will provide greater access and more benefits for our talented students. The new training facilities will be top of the line, allowing full teams to train at the same time, and that helps build teamwork, you have more intense workouts and it maximizes athletic performance."
Orr added the renovations to the McKeon Pavilion will help the athletics program overall and contribute to the fan experience. “The addition of 500 new seats will increase revenue opportunities for the College and the new video boards, concession areas, lobby reconfiguration and courtyard will provide Gaels fans with an enhanced game atmosphere to enjoy Saint Mary’s athletic events.”
The estimated $13 million cost of the Student Athlete Performance Center and renovation of McKeon Pavilion will be covered through $9 million in philanthropic support and Saint Mary’s has secured nearly 50 percent toward that fundraising goal. The College will cover the remaining $4 million for the facility through other means, such as corporate sponsorships and ticket sales.
Construction of the new Student Athlete Performance Center is scheduled to begin in spring 2015. For more information about the new facility and renovation, including artist’s renderings, visit stmarys-ca.edu/sapc.
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