After more than a year of construction, Loyola Athletics Director Steve Watson unveiled the Alfie Norville Practice Facility — nicknamed “The Alfie” — at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sunday.
Watson said the $18.5 million project stayed on budget and finished on schedule in August 2019 after starting in May 2018. Allan Norville donated the majority of the funds for the building, which is named after his late wife, Alfena. Norville played on Loyola’s men’s basketball team from 1956-59 and graduated from Loyola in 1960. He also provided funding for the Norville Center for Intercollegiate Athletics that was built in 2011.
The Alfie can only be used by Loyola’s athletic teams, but Watson said the new addition will benefit all students.
Without a practice facility, volleyball and basketball teams would be occasionally forced to utilize the Halas Recreation Center to hold team practices. With the teams being able to practice in The Alfie, Watson said this will open up space for the general student body.
“[Athletics] is trying to schedule practices, competitions and all of the athletes’ class schedules,” Watson told The Phoenix. “Trying to tie all of that together into [Gentile Arena] was impossible. We bled over into Halas, which takes away time from the general population. So now, we can do everything from [Alfie].”
The basketball and volleyball teams will be the main beneficiaries of The Alfie. The facility includes two basketball courts and four volleyball courts, all of which fit NCAA regulations. The courts are on the first and third floors of the building. The second floor overlooks the court on the first floor, allowing a unique vantage point of what’s happening on the court. There’s also an exercise science lab classroom located on the first floor and a film room on the third.
Beyond just being able to practice in a state-of-the-art facility and reducing scheduling conflicts, coaches will now be able to utilize the facility for recruiting, according to women’s volleyball head coach Amanda Berkley.
“The facility has also been a huge boost for our recruiting,” Berkley said. “Everytime we have met with a recruit, we have been able to show them the plans for the facility, and they have been blown away. Now we can show them the real thing.”
The athletics department also funded the rebuilding of Sean Earl Field directly east of The Alfie. The field existed previously but was removed during the year-long construction of the facility. There’s a small track around the perimeter of the field, and students, athletes and Rogers Park citizens can utilize this area.
“Last year, not having that field hurt [the athletics department] and our training,” Watson said. “But it also hurt intramurals and club sports in a big way. Having a first-class, really nice field for our students and for the people in Rogers Park, they use it all the time, is a big benefit.”