Harvard University is laying plans to construct a “first class” basketball arena, which would replace the school’s smaller, outdated venue, a Harvard-Allston Task Force member said Friday.
Ray Mellone of the Harvard-Allston Task Force said Harvard officials are proposing to build a venue in the area of North Harvard Street and Western Avenue. The arena would hold approximately 2,700 people. Mellone said he has been discussing the proposal with Harvard for the past few months.
“With good faith we are going to look at the issues and tell them what we think,” said Mellone, whose task force includes residents and civic leaders of the Allston neighborhood near the Harvard campus.
According to The Harvard Crimson, Jeremy L. Gibson, senior associate director of Harvard Athletics, said at a Harvard-Allston Task Force meeting Thursday night that the arena would be built between 2017 and 2022. The basketball program has been gaining recognition, he said, noting that Harvard participated in the NCAA tournament last spring for the first time in 66 years.
The Crimson also reported that Harvard plans to renovate its storied football stadium.
The plans for the improved athletic facilities are part of a new "Institutional Master Plan'' that the university unveiled Thursday night. The plan also includes a hotel--conference center and improvements to Harvard Business School buildings, Harvard Magazine reported.
The current basketball venue, the Ray Lavietes Pavilion, has a seating capacity of 2,195 and is located on North Harvard Street. The Pavilion, formerly known as the Briggs Athletic Center, is among the oldest basketball arenas in the country. It was built in 1926.
Mellone said the new basketball structure would help bring Harvard into the modern era, but the Harvard-Allston Task Force needs to decide what is best for the community. Mellone said he has several concerns about the project, including whether there would be an increase in traffic flow.
“It’s quite a blend of issues that have to be resolved,” he said.
Kevin Casey, Associate Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications, said in a statement Friday that Harvard intends to file paperwork with the Boston Redevelopment Authority next week, highlighting specific projects the University aims to complete over the next ten years.
“We are pleased to take this important step forward in the master planning process next week and look forward to our continued discussions within the University, with the City and with our Allston neighbors,” Casey said in the statement.
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