FSW breaks ground on a not-so-original gym
Florida SouthWestern is imitating its “big brother” FGCU by building a new arena on its campus. From the blueprints to the staff, FSW is looking to build more than just a gym similar to Alico Arena.
When Carl McAloose was the athletic director at FGCU 15 years ago, he overlooked what was then a fledgling program. Looking to build something more than just your everyday college gym, he sat in Beef ‘O’ Brady’s and drew out what is today’s home to some of FGCU’s dearest traditions and successes, Alico Arena. The 120,000-square-foot, multipurpose arena was completed in December 2002 and immediately began hosting basketball games for the program that was established that same year.
Now, 13 years after the completion of Alico Arena, a junior college fewer than 13 miles away is building its own Alico Arena, tentatively named by Suncoast Credit Union, which is searching for its own traditions and success stories. Suncoast Credit Union donated $5 million to FSW for the arena.
Scheduled to be finished in 2016, the $26 million arena is almost exactly the same as Alico, which cost $16 million. FSW’s arena does not feature the auxiliary basketball court or extra set of bleachers that currently exist in the western half of Alico Arena.
“It has all the bells and whistles,” McAloose said, noting the extra detail and design of the arena’s exterior and the open-concept layout of the soon-to-be lobby.
McAloose, who called FGCU home for nine years, has been the athletic director at FSW since 2014, and he’s not the only Buccaneer with Eagle blood.
McAloose recently hired Marty Richter, former FGCU men’s basketball assistant coach, as head coach of the men’s basketball program. The basketball program is scheduled to tip off in October 2016. The volleyball program will begin in 2017.
In the FSW athletics office, you can find Mike Hill, the sports information director, one of the previous SIDs at FGCU. Hill helped trademark Dunk City in 2013 before leaving for FSW and worked closely with the FGCU women’s basketball program.
McAloose stressed that the schools are not in competition and never will be.
“We’re a junior college, and we will never play FGCU unless it’s in a practice scrimmage,” McAloose said.
FGCU Athletic Director Ken Kavanagh welcomes the relationship, saying it’s a great opportunity for both programs.
“We are certainly excited when we can possibly match our recruiting needs with local talent,” Kavanagh said.“How this will eventually play out to our actual needs, as well as the desires of their student athletes relative to other choices that they may have, remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that the potential for such is an added positive.”
FSW currently fields softball and baseball athletic programs that are scheduled to begin play this academic year.
FSW is becoming known not only for its impressive facilities, but also its coaching staff.
Jamie Corr, FSW baseball coach, won the USA Today scholastic baseball national championship while at Lambert High School in Georgia and was also named the USA Today National Coach of the Year. FSW softball coach Robert Iamurri won 15 state championships at Naples High School and was named the 2014 National Coach of the Year.
“We’re very excited about the coaching staff we’ve got,” McAloose said. “We didn’t intentionally recruit locally; it just so happens that the best talent is from around here.”