The Joseph J. Gentile Center
In a short period of time, the Joseph J. Gentile Center went from being one of the newest basketball facilities in the Midwest to being one of the toughest places for opponents to play.
This will be the 15th season Loyola has called the Gentile Center home. Since 1996, the Ramblers have compiled a 125-68 (.648) record at Gentile, including a school-record 13-3 mark in 2005-06. On Dec. 9, 2000, a Gentile Center record 5,513 fans packed the gym to see Loyola face defending NCAA National Champion Michigan State. In 2006-07, the Ramblers posted a 12-4 ledger at home, marking the sixth time in 13 seasons they have won at least ten contests at the Gentile Center.
On November 23, 1996, the Loyola men's basketball team played its first-ever game in its new home and the 5,200-seat arena was rocking as the team christened the building with a win over Eastern Kentucky.
One of the top practice facilities around, with three full- size courts and 18 baskets, the Gentile Center is tailor-made for the individual attention that student-athletes need.
The man with the vision was former Loyola President John J. Piderit, S.J., who made the decision to build a new multi-purpose facility that would be the men's and women's basketball teams' new home. Then Joseph Gentile, a 1946 Loyola graduate, helped make the building a reality. Gentile graciously made a commitment with a total value of $3.5 million to cover nearly half the cost of the new facility that bears his name. He is the former owner of Joe Gentile Chrysler Plymouth in suburban Barrington, Ill. -- the "Baron of Barrington" - and the pride of Loyola.
Gentile has been a long-time fan and supporter of the athletics department at Loyola. For many years, he sponsored the television and radio broadcasts of Ramblers basketball games and has donated cars for raffles held by the Loyola Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.
The Chicago native, along with Gerry Nagel and John Rosich, was the main benefactor for the construction of the Gentile Center. Gentile was named the National Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame Man of the Year in 1990 and earned the Founders Award one year later.
The facility is easily the most visible symbol in the current rise of the Rambler men and women's basketball teams. The Joseph J. Gentile Center replaced tradition-rich Alumni Gym as the Ramblers' basketball home. The new structure, located on the Lake Shore Campus, just east of Alumni Gym, is used for athletics, recreation and special events.
While the most visible tenants of this building are the Rambler basketball teams, an equally important group uses the building -- the Loyola student body. Whether for graduation, intramural activities or entertainment purposes such as concerts and speakers, the facility allows the Division of Student Development to greatly expand its offerings. The Gentile Center has also been the site of the Illinois High School Association boys and girls basketball supersectional rounds.
For the coming years, the 45,000-square-foot facility will be used not only for men's and women's basketball, but also for Loyola special events, as well as by the community in the Rogers Park-Edgewater neighborhood. Graduation, which used to be held downtown in Medinah Temple, also is held in the Gentile Center.
Prior to the 2006-07 season, the Gentile Center was outfitted with state-of-the-art video boards at each end of the basketball playing floor and the 2010-11 campaign will mark the final season of the arena's current configuration before a massive renovation project commences in May 2011.
The architecture firm of Solomon, Cordwell, Buenz and Associates Inc., is responsible for the facility's design. The same firm also designed the Simpson Living-Learning Center as well as the Information Commons.