VCU is still more than a week away from hanging its Final Four banner from the Verizon Wireless Arena rafters. First, Director of Athletics Norwood Teague will unveil VCU’s anticipated Club Seat and Suite Project Thursday, prior to men’s basketball’s season-opening exhibition contest with California (Pa.).
The 15,000-square foot renovation and expansion has provided the Siegel Center’s second level with a complete facelift and includes luxury suites, a 120-club seat balcony, renovated offices and a sparkling new lounge, the Tommy J. West Club. Completed entirely through private donations of $3.4 million, the initiative has reshaped the way fans, donors, coaches and student-athletes will view VCU Athletics now and in the future.
“To be quite honest, this thing turned out even more dramatic than even I envisioned,” beamed Teague. “I knew it was going to look great, but in the last three weeks, it’s been jaw-dropping, and it really reflects a Final Four-type basketball program.”
The centerpiece of the project is the Tommy J. West Club, named for the late Tommy West, a longtime VCU fan and supporter. With its distinct brick and hardwood-covered walls and upscale lounge furnishings, the Tommy J. West Club draws heavily on the urban aesthetic flair of Richmond’s Fan District. Complete with flat screen televisions and bartop seating, the club provides fans with an unparalleled gameday atmosphere. The lounge serves as a gateway to the project’s 120 club seats, all with an outstanding panoramic view of the arena.
Both men’s and women’s basketball staffs have moved into brand new, deluxe office suites that will rival some of the nation’s best. The existing office suites have essentially doubled the size of each team’s previous layout.
Two of the overall project’s goals, revenue generation and recruiting, have been addressed. All 120 club seats have been sold for the 2011-12 season, and its modern upscale décor will no doubt impress future student-athletes. The Tommy J. West Club is marked by a number of display cases, which will emphasize VCU’s rich history. While the historical perspective will highlight the Rams’ many successes for prospective student-athletes, the Tommy J. West Club, as well as the Club Seat and Suite Project, foretells a bright future.
“I’m really excited about this new Tommy J. West Club and what the office renovations for men’s and women’s basketball will do, as well as the displays that will be on hand in these various trophy cases on this level,” Teague said. “The No. 1 reason for those displays is recruiting and for perspective student-athletes, especially from basketball, to see those when they visit on numerous occasions throughout the year.”
The project has also necessitated a reconfiguration of VCU’s hospitality services. The Founders Room, a popular pregame destination for donors on game days, has been relocated to the Parlors, in the Sports Medicine Building, adjacent to the Siegel Center. While the location has changed, the Founders Room will continue to provide the amenities and atmosphere for which it has become known.
“I’m very sensitive and it was a gut-wrenching process to move people around between different rooms for pregame and halftime,” said Teague. “However, we put a lot of thought into it and felt like, all-in-all, these were the best moves for the department’s future. I’ve been really concerned about moving a large and faithful group out of the Founders Room to the Parlors, but I think with time, it will become home and a place they’ll really enjoy.”
Athletic Director’s and President’s Suites are also of note, as is Coach Shaka Smart’s office balcony, which offers a show-stopping view of the floor below. Each will provide opportunities to showcase VCU’s exciting future.