During the summer of 2011, Joseph J. Gentile Arena will undergo a major renovation as the facility will be upgraded to one of the top venues not only in the Horizon League, but also in the Midwest. As Phase II of Loyola's reimagine campaign, the renovations to Gentile Arena will result in more of a stadium atmosphere with more chairback seating added to enhance the fan experience.
In addition to true stadium seating being installed, a concourse will be constructed, and the Arena will feature brand new concession stands, restrooms, locker rooms, hospitality rooms and storage areas. Furthermore, the main playing floor, which previously ran north/south, will now run east/west.
Loyola originally moved into Gentile Arena in November 1996 and played in its previous configuration for 15 seasons, where the Rambler men's basketball team compiled a record of 125-70 (.641), including a school-record 13-3 mark in 2005-06.
A pair of top-five teams have paid a visit to Gentile Arena since it opened in 1996 - No. 2 Michigan State in 2000 and No. 5 Kansas State in 2010. On Dec. 9, 2000, a Gentile Center record 5,513 fans packed the arena 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 15 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.
Joseph Gentile, a 1946 Loyola graduate, helped make the building a reality when he graciously made a commitment with a total value of $3.5 million to cover nearly half the cost of the 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. Gentile Arena replaced tradition-rich Alumni Gym, the legendary "Big Brown Box that Rocks," as the Ramblers' basketball home. The structure, located on the Lake Shore Campus, just east of previous site of historic Alumni Gym, is used for athletics, recreation and special events.
While the most visible tenants of this building are the Rambler basketball and volleyball 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.
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 Gentile Arena.
The architecture firm of Solomon, Cordwell, Buenz and Associates Inc., is responsible for the facility's new design. The same firm also designed The Norville Center for Intercollegiate Athletics, which opened in March 2011.