By Logan VanDine and Dylan Manfre
Rider Athletics received a $2.5 million donation from two anonymous donors to help renovate Alumni Gym, home to the basketball, volleyball and wrestling teams.
The total cost of the renovation tallies $17.7 million, and the school now possesses $11 million from 112 donors to put toward the construction.
The goal of the renovation is to transform Alumni Gym into a modern basketball facility.
One of the donors said in a statement to the university, “Now is the time for all of us to do everything we can to support Rider athletes, and the best way to do that is to invest in the arena project.”
“The project plans are fantastic, and we know just how impactful this facility upgrade will be for the entire University community,” one donor said. “Now more than ever is the time for our fellow alumni and friends to do all they can to support this project in a significant way.”
Rider President Gregory Dell’Omo was grateful for the donations the anonymous donors made.
“We are incredibly grateful for this leadership gift,” Dell’Omo said in a statement. ”It will help us realize our vision of turning Alumni Gym into an arena and make athletic competitions there an even more enjoyable experience for both student-athletes and the spectators who cheer them on.”
Rider Athletic Director Don Harnum said renovating the gym is his top priority.
“The gift is not anonymous to me, or the university advancement staff, as we have been working with donors for the arena campaign for a number of years. However, the donors in this case wished to remain publicly anonymous for the time being. Nevertheless, it is very exciting to receive this level of support for our No. 1 athletic facility priority.”
Harnum’s goal with the renovation of the Alumni Gym is to enhance the student-athlete experience, add more premium seating, larger ticket booths, bigger concession stands, a giant scoreboard above the court and expanded seating.
Women’s basketball head coach Lynn Milligan, whose team won the 2020 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) championship, is looking forward to playing games again in a renovated Alumni Gym for years to come.
“Rider Athletics, led by our [Athletic Director] Don Harnum, has continued our path and growth despite very difficult times. An anonymous gift of this size is a blessing, but really shows the love that our alumni have for Rider University and athletics and the impact this place has made on their lives,” Milligan wrote in an email. “We are extremely appreciative and look forward to playing our games in front of our fans and in a newly renovated Alumni Gym very soon.”
The construction of the seating was already completed during the spring and summer, when a majority of the Rider community was doing remote learning, thanks to a $1 million donation from Chuck and Isabel Baker in May 2020.