St. Ignatius Church at the University of San Francisco is a signature building on the main campus. (Photo by James Stapleton)

Dons Notes: Athletic Facility Improvements Coming to USF?

The University of San Francisco recently completed an institutional plan that added a science center in the heart of campus. The John Lo Schiavo, S.J. Center of Science and Innovation opened in 2013 and changed the dynamic of campus. This building is a relatively modern glass walled structure in the middle of a campus originally established in 1927. The completion of the science center ended one era and reignited new ideas for the future of San Francisco’s main campus. Recently, those new ideas were released in an institutional plan made to the public. If you would like to learn more about the project, I encourage you to look at the 296 page Institutional Master Plan – it’s a good read. USF’s main objectives with the new institutional plan include:

  • Further USF’s mission
  • Maintain and increase academic quality
  • Provide a student experience that contributes to holistic student development
  • Maintain the university’s financial health and stability
  • Increase safety

The plan also projects an increase on campus housing, improvement of pedestrian traffic surrounding campus and about a slow 1,000 student increase until 2022. Currently, USF houses 38% of its students on campus. In comparison, WCC schools Loyola Marymount; 57%, Gonzaga; 59%, University of San Diego; 48%, and Portland; 54% house more students than USF. But how does this institutional plan relate to USF athletics? Let me tell you…

The last major renovations for athletic facilities were heavily directed at War Memorial Gym. The seats were improved, hallway carpet was replaced, paint was applied and gym floor was renovated. It was a major face lift, including the new LED message boards. It took War Memorial Gym out of the 1900’s and introduced it to the 21st Century. In the new Institutional Plan, there are many changes planned for multiple athletic facilities.

War Memorial Gym

One of the major concerns at War Memorial Gym is practice space. There are three teams that play their games at WMG. All three of these teams must also find an adequate amount of time to practice in the gym to prepare for games. One of the best renovations in the new plan impacts War Memorial Gym, but has no physical impact on the facility itself. USF plans to renovate Hagan Gym, a small gym located in the Koret Health center on campus. An improvement of the Hagan gym facility could open valuable time and space for indoor based sports. At War Memorial Gym itself, the maintenance facility located in the southeast corner of the gym would be completely relocated. The new space would open up an opportunity to build additional offices, meeting rooms, lockers and improved fan amenities. Another change coming to War Memorial Gym is the relocation of the main entrance. In order to please the neighborhood and alleviate crowding on Golden Gate Avenue, USF plans to move the main entrance to the west side of War Memorial Gym. This will make the main entrance on campus rather than on a main city street.

Neogesco Field

Last time USF’s soccer field was renovated, the turf replacement was the biggest change. This time around, Neogesco Field will have a bigger face lift. Since there are plans to build a new residence life building on campus, the ROTC building must find a new home. This new home will be adjacent to Neogesco Field. There will be two additional buildings built at this same location. One building will be exclusively for concessions and fans. Lastly, in order to make room for more parking spots, the entire field will be elevated and a parking lot will be added to the ground floor. Neogesco Field would then be on street level rather then below street level.

Benedetti Diamond

Previous improvements at the baseball field included an addition of acoustic panels, a new audio system and turf surrounding foul territory. This time around, USF plans to reorient the entire field. Home plate will be moved from the southwest corner to the northwest corner. With this move, the entire field would be transitioned to artificial turf. The new batting cage facility would be moved underground to make room for fan concession stands. This is the only athletic facility project that would not need conditional authorization from the city or neighborhood.

Underhill Tennis Courts

Lastly, as mentioned before, an additional residence life building is planned for the Lone Mountain Campus. The ROTC building will be demolished and so will the tennis courts adjacent to the planned building. These tennis courts are strictly a practice area for both the Men’s and Women’s Tennis teams. A replacement set of tennis courts are planned for the farthest northwest corner of campus. The courts will be near Loyola Village.

One For the Road 

Last time USF renovated War Memorial Gym, they replaced the gym floor. This removed the iconic city backdrop from the floor and left a contemporary gym floor. Isn’t it funny how modern basketball courts now have intricate designs? The Dons must have been the real trendsetters before they removed the city skyline.


Tags: Basketball San Francisco Basketball San Francisco Dons USF Dons WCC West Coast Conference

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