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Dec. 18, 2003

As fans flock to University Hall for the 2003-04 season they will quickly notice the major construction across Massie Road from the basketball arena. As the basketball season opens, the John Paul Jones Arena project is in its sixth month of the construction phase.

On May 30, 2003, the University of Virginia and the Charlottesville community broke ground on the John Paul Jones Arena, a 15,000-seat special events center that is destined to become a “gateway to the University of Virginia.” Named in honor of John Paul “Jack” Jones, the father of University alumnus Paul Tudor Jones II, and himself a 1948 graduate of the University of Virginia Law School, the John Paul Jones Arena will be the new home not only of the University varsity intercollegiate basketball programs but also a center for concerts, convocations and other special events hosted by the University.

The management firm of Barton Malow, Inc., is overseeing construction. The same firm also managed the recent expansion of the Carl Smith Center, home of David A. Harrison III Field at Scott Stadium, and plans to pattern many of the construction processes after those used for the stadium project.

Project director Dick Laurance of UVa Facilities Management and a steering committee are overseeing the project from the University’s end. Laurance described the current phase of the project as “The foundations are now being installed. The concrete is being poured, and as the season goes along, fans will be able to see the building rise out of the land.”

Virginia Director of Athletics, Craig Littlepage, is enthused about the work going on right across the street from his office. “After so many years of discussion about this project, it is pleasing to see the great progress that has been made on the John Paul Jones Arena. After having recently toured the beautiful Comcast Arena at the University of Maryland, my excitement for our arena reached an all-time high,” said Littlepage.

The design includes a horseshoe-shaped, 15,000-seat arena with contiguous basketball practice courts, basketball coaches’ offices, weight training room, club lounge and 20 luxury suites. For basketball games, students will be seated courtside in two separate sections, with premium donor seating filling the remainder of the lower bowl, as well as an upper-level loge arena. The arena’s shape gives it not only a fan-friendly, “close to the court” seating arrangement for basketball games, but also makes it easily adaptable for other uses. The open end of the arena will be ideal for stages; the lower level will include retractable seats to maximize event flexibility.

Virginia head basketball coach Pete Gillen is very excited about the practice facility planned for the new building. “Having this practice facility will be an incredible advantage for us,” said Gillen. “It will let us have an ideal time for practice during the day, which will allow the student-athletes more flexibility in getting rest and taking care of academics. It will also be a very positive draw for recruits.”

Littepage added, “I am convinced with all of the careful planning and attention that has been put into this, the John Paul Jones Arena will be the best on-campus facility in the country. Our basketball programs will benefit, and the University community benefits as well with a facility that will be state-of-the-art in every regard helping to bring a variety of events to the region. This arena will be the front door of the University and will also serve as a connection point for so many parts of UVa. It is a natural connection between North and Central Grounds and is a place where people from all facets of the University can gather.”

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