Oct. 17, 2009
PHILADELPHIA - A new era of Saint Joseph's basketball officially began today with the dedication of the Michael J. Hagan '85 Arena. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by more than 1,000 Hawk supporters, with many former players and coaches taking part, including Hall of Fame coach Dr. Jack Ramsay '49. PHOTO GALLERY
The ceremony also marked the beginning of the Centennial Celebration of Saint Joseph's Basketball, as the 1909-10 season was the inaugural campaign of Hawk basketball.
The opening of Hagan Arena is the climax of a 16-month project of the expansion and renovation of Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse. Hagan Arena has a capacity of 4,200, which is an increase of 1,000 from the Fieldhouse. It has many more amenities to enhance the Saint Joseph's fan experience, while providing the basketball program with a top-notch facility, which still preserves the homecourt advantage enjoyed for so many years at Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse.
Among the amenities now in Hagan Arena are new premium seating section with chair backs; a new upper level concourse with additional restrooms and concession stands; a fully air-conditioned arena; a new will-call entrance as well as additional ticket entrances in the back of the arena; renovated visiting team locker rooms; and an expanded media room.
Michael J. Hagan '85, and his wife, Joyce, are the lead benefactors for the most comprehensive enhancement of athletic facilities in Saint Joseph's history. A 1985 graduate of SJU, he received his bachelor's degree in accounting and was a member of the Hawks' golf team. The former chairman and chief executive officer of NutriSystem, Inc., Hagan was named the 2006 Entrepreneur of the Year by Forbes magazine.
"The Arena is spectacular in every way. But the main thing is that the spirit that is Saint Joseph's University has not changed," said Hawk basketball coach Phil Martelli.
Comcast SportsNet anchor Neil Hartman served as the Master of Ceremonies for the dedication and opened the evening with a video that highlighted the great moments and players from the SJU men's and women's basketball history.
A "Parade of Decades" took to the court, with representatives of each decade beginning with the 1930s. Leading the way as Grand Marshal was the legendary voice of sports, Jack Whitaker '47. Former men's players in the procession were: Matt Guokas III '92 (representing his grandfather, Matt Guokas, Sr.), Jack McEnroe '48, Jack Carney '49 and John Conway'75 (representing his father Bill Conway '43); Dan Dougherty '57 and Margaret Engelbert (representing her husband Kurt Engelbert '57); Joe Spratt '59; Harry Booth '62, Steve Courtin '64 and Steve Donches '66; Dan Kelly '70 and Pat McFarland '73; Geoff Arnold '86, Rodney Blake '88 and Tess Boyle '84 (representing her husband Jim Boyle '84); Rap Curry '95 and Mark Bass '96; Tyrone Barley '04 and Chet Stachitas '06.
Women's basketball, which got its start in 1973, was represented by Mary Sue Garrity '78 and Kathy Langley '78; Missy Foy-Martin '83, Trish Brown-Lutter '85 and Janet Fonda '85; Audrey Codner '94; and Stephanie Graff-McCaffrey '04.
Other participants and speakers were: Tom Wynne '63, Mike Bantom '73, Ellen Ryan, Susan Moran '02; and John Griffin '78.
The event ended with the blessing of the building by University president Timothy R. Lannon, S.J. The current members of the men's and women's basketball team held the ribbon that was cut by Fr. Lannon, Mike Hagan and Dr. Jack Ramsay.
"I dare anyone who participated in or watched this ceremony to honestly say that their eyes didn't fill up," said Martelli.
The first basketball game to be played in Hagan Arena will be Drexel at Saint Joseph's on November 13, 2009.