As the temperatures are starting to drop in Chicago, Loyola’s newest athletics complex — the Alfie Norville Practice Facility — is going up.
The $18.5 million project will give the basketball and volleyball teams an elite practice facility and is still on schedule to be finished in summer 2019, according to Loyola Athletics director Steve Watson. Allan Norville, who played basketball at Loyola from 1956-59 and graduated in 1960, contributed a majority of the $18.5 million and the name is in honor of his wife, Alfie.
Watson said he’s excited about the progress that’s been made on the practice facility and doesn’t foresee any setbacks which would prevent it from being completed on schedule.
“Scheduled to come online in August, it should be ready by the time our women’s volleyball team comes back next year to start their preseason practice,” Watson said.
According to a press release from Loyola, the facility — which has been nicknamed “The Alfie” by the athletics department — will follow Loyola’s sustainability movement. It will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified, meaning it meets energy efficiency standards and will have eco-friendly heating and cooling. The Norville Center for Intercollegiate Athletics and Damen Student Center are two other LEED certified buildings at Loyola.
Watson also said with winter quickly approaching, the goal is to get it enclosed as soon as possible. This would allow them to work on the interior throughout the winter.
The two-story building will have two NCAA-regulation size basketball courts and four volleyball courts, as well as a team film room.
“More than anything else, it will give them more access to practice, a place to work on more individual instruction, to get more shots in or more time on the volleyball court,” Watson said. “They’re all really excited about the opportunity.”
The basketball and volleyball teams had been forced to practice in Gentile Arena and Halas gym after the Alumni Gym was demolished in 2011. Alumni Gym was Loyola’s basketball arena from its construction in 1924 through the 1995-96 season, after which it was used as a practice facility until its demolition.
Watson said one of the biggest advantages of “The Alfie” is that it will allow teams to practice without infringing on students’ use of Halas. Although there’s been some public backlash to the new building, Watson said he believes the general student population will also benefit from the new facility.
“It will get us out of Halas because our basketball and volleyball programs are all spending some time in Halas, which takes away from the general student population,” Watson said.
Watson also said he believes the state-of-the-art practice facility will be a big recruiting draw, and said coaches have already used it as a selling point for Loyola. He said having a first-class facility is appealing to recruits when they visit campus because it shows Loyola invests in athletics.
The further commitment to athletics at Loyola will also translate to other teams in the future, according to Watson.
“I think everybody sees the benefit just because it really shows us moving forward and committing to athletics here at the university,” Watson said. “While that will only directly impact the basketball and volleyball [teams], I think indirectly everybody sees the fact that we’re really supporting our athletic programs here.”
Power Construction, the construction company working on the facility, wasn’t available for comment at the time of publication.