Georgetown University dedicated its new athletic facility to beloved basketball coach John R. Thompson Jr. Oct. on the Hilltop. Built at a cost of roughly $61 million dollars, the John Thompson Jr. Athletic Center was blessed and introduced in front of a crowd of alumni, donors, administrators and students at an Oct. 6 gathering.
”When they started talking about putting up a building I started laughing,” said Thompson at the dedication. ”I said I won’t be alive when they put a building up.”
A new athletic facility — to alleviate the use of the 50-year-old McDonough Arena — had been discussed for years. Construction on the building, which sits next to the gym and built on top of tennis courts, began in October 2014.
The building was completed ahead of schedule and just in time for the basketball season — the basketball team takes up nearly 50 percent of the 144,000-square-foot building.
Thompson Center will transform the athletics experience at Georgetown with a facility that supports the demands student-athletes face on a daily basis. The structure will house two new practice courts, one for men’s and one for women’s basketball and will house locker rooms for men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s lacrosse, and men’s and women’s basketball. Each locker room comes with a players lounge connected to the locker room, coming with couches and chairs for the athletes to relax. Even the bathrooms are customized, with high raised sinks for the taller athletes.
A sports performance and training facility was installed on the ground floor, along with a medicine and training room that is accessible to all varsity student athletes. A new equipment room was also installed underground, which is more than 4,000 square feet and will service all 29 intercollegiate sports and more than 750 student-athletes.
When reflecting on seeing his name put on the building, and seeing the bronze statue of him at the front entrance, Thompson became emotional. “It’s very hard to express what you really feel,” Thompson said. “I’ve sat out there and just looked at it and said, ‘Can you believe this?’ ”