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The three-phase renovation plan and project underway for Romano Gym.
UMD Athletics is announcing plans to renovate Romano Gymnasium, the hub for Bulldog women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, academic and recreation space, as well as a community programing for more than six decades.
The $2 million (above and beyond the $1 million raised to date) fundraising effort is part of UMD’s capital campaign. The remaining approximately $7 million was sourced from state legislature allocated HEAPR funding and University resources.
“Romano Gymnasium, in many ways, is an epicenter of activity on the UMD campus” said Athletic Director Josh Berlo. “A full-scale renovation of this historic space will have a tremendously positive impact on the campus and community. This includes Athletics, the Applied Human Sciences program in the College of Education and Human Service Professions, as well as Recreational Sports and Outdoor Program’s activities that occur in the largest indoor gathering space on the UMD campus,” added Berlo.
Senior Development Officer for Intercollegiate Athletics Gary Holquist hopes to meet the $3 million goal to complete the three phase project by 2020. “Renovating Romano is the best way to honor UMD’s student body and the tradition and history of all the student-athletes, coaches, staff, benefactors and fans that competed as Bulldogs or supported them for over 60 years in this grand old structure” said Holquist.
Phase One is Underway
When the shift from Old Main to the current campus address began, Romano was the second building to anchor UMD’s upper campus.
Known then as the Physical Education Building, it opened officially with a Men’s Basketball win over Gustavus Adolphus College on December 12, 1953. This was an era when Dwight Eisenhower was leading the country and the first color televisions were being sold to American households.
Fast forward 63 years, and this same space now features a $300,000 Daktronics HD videoboard that was installed as part of the first phase (which began in August 2017) of the three stage renovation plan. It’s enhancing the game day experience for both fans and student athletes with live game feeds, replays, campus features and real-time statistics.
The Men’s and Women’s Basketball locker rooms are also being renovated as part of this phase, a result of the generosity of both program’s basketball alumni. Approximately $75,000 was raised from dozens of donors to fund this component of the project.
On To Phase Two
UMD is working on the second phase of its effort to modernize Romano Gym. Phase Two includes a new NCAA competition grade wood flooring, enhanced lower level seating with back support, aisle mounted hand rails and increased ADA capacity, new high-end floor mounted basketball standards, and a new climate control system– including air conditioning and humidity control that will improve playing, teaching and patron conditions. These projects will address important safety issues while concurrently improving the experience of the many facility users and fans that attend intercollegiate events.
Additional theming and Bulldog points of pride will be enhanced throughout the facility celebrating UMD’s school colors, the Bulldog mascot, and the three varsity program’s history and traditions of excellence.
“The improvements demonstrate the Athletic Department's commitment to make UMD one of the premier Division II athletic programs in the country for our Bulldog student-athletes,” says Volleyball Coach Jim Boos. “In addition, it allows our coaches to have even more to show recruits, on top of the countless other great attributes that UMD and Duluth have to offer."
Construction is expected to start this spring and be completed by October, 2018.
Raising funds for a club room that provides an upscale patron experience, as well as significant updates to the Romano lobby area and atrium outside the gymnasium, and renovation of the women’s volleyball, women’s soccer, and football locker rooms are on the Phase Three to-do list.
Additional locker room renovations are planned for more Bulldog Division II programs in coming years. Fundraising opportunities also exist to support the Bulldog Athletics Training, Rehabilitation as well as the Strength and Conditioning facilities.
Embedded with Bulldog Pride
Romano Gymnasium has housed Men’s Basketball for more than a half-century and Women’s Basketball and Women’s Volleyball for four decades.
This space has also served as a key recreational facility for intramural clubs and other recreational programs, and Romano is an education facility where future teachers and outdoor recreation professionals develop their skills and craft.
The Twin Ports and Northern Minnesota communities are frequent users of Romano Gymnasium. More than 3,000 students in grades three through 12 utilize the space annually during UMD Athletics Summer Sports program. Community health fairs that promote wellness and raise awareness for cancer and other diseases, disability service organizations and veterans also use the space.
Other recent events in Romano include: political campaign rallies, concerts featuring local and national acts, state high school music competitions for choir and band, multicultural celebrations, high school boys and girls athletic regional and sectional competitions, regional high school robotics competitions, and multiple area high school graduation ceremonies.
The 2,759-seat facility was last updated in 1987.
The name changed from the Physical Education Building to Romano Gymnasium in 1988 in honor of the late Ralph Romano, UMD’s Director of Intercollegiate Athletics from 1969 to 1983.