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Hey, Chicago, the Lakers want you to come watch them play basketball. In the Loop.
No, Kobe Bryant and Co. haven't relocated. But Roosevelt University’s men’s and women’s basketball teams will christen their new Lillian and Larry Goodman Center athletic facility Saturday with a doubleheader against Trinity Christian College.
The 28,000-square-foot, two-floor center-- at the southeast corner of Congress Parkway and Wabash Avenue--is the first stand-alone facility for college athletes to be built in Chicago’s Loop. The center, which houses a multi-purpose gymnasium on the second floor that can seat up to 500 people, was named after entrepreneur Larry Goodman, who donated $3 million to the project, and his wife. Construction on the first floor of the building, which will include offices for staff and coaches, meeting rooms, a weight room and an athletic training room, will be completed in April.
Michael Cassidy, the director of intercollegiate athletics and the assistant vice president for health and human wellness at Roosevelt, said he he was shown the plans for the project during his job interview in 2009.
“It got me excited about building something here,” said Cassidy, who was hired to recreate Roosevelt’s athletics program “from the ground up,” 20 years after cutting its intercollegiate sports programs.
Cassidy said he wants the new center to be the focal point of the university’s new sports teams as well as a community and sports programming space for the entire student body. Currently, the only workout facility on campus is on the fifth floor of Roosevelt’s new Wabash Building.
“We want all of the students to be Lakers, whether they’re athletes or not,” Cassidy said.
The athletic center’s location on a prominent corner of the Loop will only add to the campaign to rebrand Roosevelt as a university that now boasts competitive athletics teams, Cassidy said.
“People are now going to know where Roosevelt is,” he said. “This is a great, great addition to Roosevelt and our athletic department.”
Cassidy is far from the only one thrilled about the center’s opening on Saturday.
Casey Davis, a 20-year-old psychology major at Roosevelt who is also the junior guard and leading scorer on the women’s basketball team, said she can’t wait for her team to finally have their own space to practice and host games. Roosevelt’s athletic teams currently practice at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
“I’m so excited,” said Davis. “I’ve been waiting on this day since I first heard we’re getting our own gym. … It’s going to be such a blessing to step on that court.”
The women’s game on Saturday will be at 1 p.m., and the men will play at 3 p.m.