The Joyce Center

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    Joyce Center (Basketball)

    No college basketball arena in the nation has had a glossier list of upset victories more distinctly stamped onto its wooden floorboards than Notre Dame's Edmund P. Joyce Center.

    The University's Board of Trustees voted in May of 1987 to re-name the athletic arena named originally as the Athletic and Convocation Center after Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C., who retired that month as the University's executive vice president and chairman of the faculty board on athletics.

    The upset tradition began in 1971 when an Austin Carr-led Irish squad pinned the only defeat of the season on one of John Wooden's powerhouse NCAA champion UCLA teams.

    It continued three years later when Notre Dame concocted a miracle rally to pull the curtain on the Bruins' all-time record 88-game victory streak.

    It climaxed, perhaps, in unprecedented fashion, when NBC Sports awarded its MVP nod to the Notre Dame student body for its role in the Fighting Irish upset over top-ranked and unbeaten San Francisco in 1977.

    It continued again in 1987, when top-ranked North Carolina ventured into the Joyce Center and left a 60-58 loser.

    It happened again in 1991-92 when the Irish knocked off second-ranked UCLA at the Joyce Center and then again in '94-'95, when the Irish defeated the fourth-ranked Bruins and No. 25 Missouri. That tradition continued in '95-'96 when the Irish defeated national power and traditional in state rival Indiana.

    The impressive list of victims - eventual national champions, defending NCAA titlists, number-one-ranked teams and unbeaten squads has established the Joyce Center as a place where the smell of victory in the visiting locker room is a rare and seldom-found odor.

    A trip to the Joyce Center with its upset-laden tradition rattles even the most poised opponent. The Irish have won 77 percent of their games in their home arena since the facility opened beginning with the 1968-69 season. The Irish have finished with one or fewer home court losses in seven different seasons. In both the '73-'74 and '85-'86 campaigns, Notre Dame finished with perfect 15-0 records at the Joyce Center. Between Feb. 3, 1973, and Dec. 11, 1974, Notre Dame won 24 consecutive games at the Joyce Center to record its longest success streak in its home facility.

    The facility also has served as a site for the NCAA men's tournament four times (1971, '76, '85 and '88).

    On the women's basketball side, the facility has been home to some of the largest women's basketball crowds in the country, including the first two sellouts in school history (vs. Connecticut on Jan. 15, 2001, and vs. Georgetown on Feb. 24, 2001).

    In addition, 19 of the 20 largest crowds ever to attend an Irish women's basketball game have come within the past five seasons, and all during the tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw. Notre Dame has ranked among the top 15 in the nation in average attendance over the past four seasons, finishing 12th in 2003-04 with an average of 6,650 fans per game.

    Such ardent fan support has helped the Irish built a daunting homecourt advantage. Notre Dame recently compiled a 51-game home winning streak from 1998-2002, the longest in school history and (at the time) the 10th-longest in NCAA history. The Irish also will take a 20-game home winning streak in the 2004-05 season.

    The Joyce Center has undergone a number of recent renovations beginning in 1994, including complete repainting and addition of new lighting and sound systems, a new artificial floor and new bleachers - all for the fieldhouse in the north dome. In addition, all concession stands in the entire building have been reconfigured.

    In the summer of 1997, the south basketball dome arena received a new lighting system - including theatrical, event and house lighting components - enhancement of the electrical capacity for special events needs and repainting of both the arena ceiling and its catwalk.

    During the summers of '99 and 2000, the practice gymnasium used by the Notre Dame basketball teams, commonly referred to as "The Pit," received a number of improvements as the floor area was extended, the facility was repainted and new lighting was installed. In the fall of '99, the Notre Dame men's basketball team locker room was completely renovated. The team moved back into its area for its first practice in October of 1999 and it features a new locker room, team meeting area, training room and a player's area. In addition to Irish basketball, the Joyce Center brings people together for many other sporting, entertainments, academic and business activities. Conceived as a "center of impact" for the University and the Michiana community, the double-domed Joyce Center encloses more area than Houston's Astrodome.

    Most varsity coaches maintain an office in the Joyce Center, including a new office suite above the north fieldhouse, and the facility is also the home of the Notre Dame athletic department administrative offices, including those of the ticket and sports information departments. They are located on the second floor of the concourse, which joins the two arenas.

    The north fieldhouse serves as a multipurpose sports center. The ice arena, which can seat 2,667 fans, is home to the Irish hockey team as well as several community hockey leagues and figure skating clubs. The area outside the rink recently has been renovated with a new surface and is the home for the Notre Dame Football Luncheon, held each Friday afternoon before home football games.

    The south arena's design makes it capable of doubling as a basketball court and an 11,000-seat auditorium, the yearly site of Notre Dame's graduation ceremonies. Including the bleacher seats, the arena holds 11,418 for basketball games.

    The Rolfs Aquatic Center, featuring an Olympic-sized pool, opened at the rear of the building in November of 1985.

    Virtually every sport at Notre Dame varsity, intramural or club can play or practice in the fieldhouse, the arena, the four auxiliary gymnasiums or several workout areas provided throughout the spacious building.

    The upstairs concourse features a minimuseum for Notre Dame sports memorabilia developed by the Notre Dame National Monogram Club. Glass cases house a variety of trophies, plaques, pennants and other relics from Notre Dame's illustrious past. The names of every monogram winner from every varsity sport at the University are carved in a display that circles the area. An additional set of display cases were added in the summer of '98 by the Monogram Club on the lower level of the building. The Monogram Room, a tastefully appointed area for dinners and receptions, also is located on the upstairs concourse.

    Designed by Ellerbe Architects of St. Paul, Minn., the Joyce Center has 464,800 square feet of usable floor area, making it the largest exhibition center between Chicago and Detroit. The structure covers 10 acres of ground, sits just east of Notre Dame's football stadium and features two distinctive domes covered with a white vinyl roofing material stretched over steel ribbing. v The south dome features 14,000 square feet on the arena floor, plus another 40,000 square feet in the upper arena area. The facility's 11,418 seats include 4,997 padded lower arena chairs, 5,763 bleacher seats in the upper arena plus 658 platform seats on the floor level.

    The fieldhouse in the north dome features 84,000 square feet of exhibition space, banquet capacity for 5,000-plus another 15,000 square feet of space in the second-floor concourse.

    Outside the twin domes, which rise 72 feet above the arena floor, is paved parking for 2,000 cars.

    It took 29 months to transform the dusty field east of Notre Dame Stadium into the $8.6-million facility that now stands. Alumni and friends in the Michiana area through the "Challenge II" capital funds drive contributed more than $1.8 million of that cost. The building was dedicated during the week of Dec. 1-7, 1968. As part of Performance Maximus, the title of the ceremonies, UCLA's national championship basketball team came to South Bend for the first time. Entertainers who performed at the Joyce Center during that dedication week included Bill Cosby and Andy Williams.

    The long list of legendary entertainers who have come to the building include Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Billy Joel. Recent performers to perform in the Joyce Center in the past five years include Elton John, Rod Stewart, Garth Brooks, Neil Diamond, James Taylor and U2.

    Joyce Center (volleyball)

    Notre Dame's Joyce Center, the home of Irish volleyball since the establishment of the varsity program in 1980, has become one of the most difficult places in the nation for road teams to win, especially since the arrival of head coach Debbie Brown in 1991.

    The Irish have pieced together a variety of impressive winning streaks on their home floor. Notre Dame has won 14 or more matches in a row at home on five different occasions, highlighted by a streak of 27 straight home wins from 1993-95 and a program-best 36-match winning streak from 2000-02.

    On 13 occasions, Notre Dame has topped ranked teams in the Joyce Center, including four upsets of top-10 opponents. In 1993, the Irish upset national power Nebraska twice at home, first defeating the third-ranked Cornhuskers in four games in the Golden Dome Invitational in September and then winning in three games in the second round of the NCAA Championship against #8 Nebraska. Among the other top wins in the Joyce Center were a four-game triumph over #9 USC in the 1995 Notre Dame Invitational and a five-game marathon victory vs. #10 Pepperdine in the 2002 Golden Dome Invitational.

    Notre Dame volleyball played its matches in "The Pit," an intimate gymnasium in the basement of the Joyce Center, from 1980-83 until increased attendance served as the impetus for a move to the basketball arena. The Irish played in "The Pit" again in 1986 due to renovation, but other than that, have had their home matches in the south arena since '84. In 1999, a new Sport Court volleyball-only playing surface debuted in the Joyce Center, completing the facility's evolution into one of the top volleyball venues in the country.

    Interest in the Irish volleyball program has exploded over the past couple of seasons, as crowds of more than 1,000 have taken in Notre Dame matches on 23 occasions since 2000. The four largest -- all over 3,000 fans -- came for matches immediately preceding football pep rallies, held in the Joyce Center on Fridays before home games. In 2003, the Notre Dame-Virginia Tech volleyball match, which ended with a thrilling five-game Irish victory, was played before a record crowd of 8,643. That season also featured the largest-ever non-pep rally crowd for volleyball, as 2,715 witnessed Notre Dame beat arch-rival Miami in three games in a match televised live by College Sports Television (CSTV).

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