The home of the Gannon Golden Knights has a new name: the Highmark Events Center.
Gannon Athletics Director Lisa Goddard-McGuirk called it a “day of great magnitude and a time for celebration” as the university announced a ten-year agreement with Highmark Health that will transform the former Hammermill Center into a state-of-the-art facility and propel Gannon Athletics to the next level.
Here are five things to know about the Highmark Events Center.
1. IT’S TAKING THE GANNON STUDENT-ATHLETE EXPERIENCE TO NEW HEIGHTS.
Gannon is strengthening its commitment to the student-athlete experience by modernizing the athletics facility with an expected $10 million in investments.
“The Highmark Events Center will give our athletes the latest and most up-to-date facilities, equipment and technology they need to continue to perform at an elite level,” said Kelvin Jefferson, head men’s basketball coach.
Renovations to the facility will create attractive and visible spaces for intercollegiate athletic practices and games. Plans include enhancing the Gary Miller Court to become a pride point for basketball, volleyball, wrestling, acrobatics and tumbling, competitive cheer and competitive dance programs. Home and visiting teams will also enjoy fully renovated men’s and women’s locker rooms.
Sample rendering of the locker rooms in the highmark Events Center.
Sophomore volleyball player Madelyn Blake said she is most excited about the new stands.
“We have such loyal fans and families that I think them getting to benefit from the new facility is their piece of joy that we get to share with them. I think I can speak for all the athletes on how truly thankful we are for the Highmark Center,” she said.
These renovations, Goddard-McGuirk said, will also mirror the prominence of Gannon’s athletic teams and their commitment to excellence. This season alone, women’s volleyball advanced to the NCAA Final Four, and women’s basketball, men’s wrestling, women’s wrestling, and acrobatics and tumbling are or were ranked in the top 25 nationally.
“We will strive to capture and preserve the rich history that exudes within (the Highmark Center) while simultaneously elevating every aspect of the facility to best meet the needs of our student-athletes, coaches and fans,” she said. “Teams that will compete in the Highmark Center consistently have a presence on the national stage.”
2. IT WILL CREATE VISIBLE CHANGE TO THE DOWNTOWN LANDSCAPE.
Together, Gannon University and Highmark will create another visible change to the downtown landscape and Perry Square.
The Gannon athletic complex has been the front porch of the university’s Erie campus for 70 years, drawing crowds of up to 2,800 people for sporting events and games, lectures, concerts, camps and other programs – all of which bring people downtown and support our regional small business economy. The center will also host community events and public lectures that feature local and global speakers, as well as signature academic events. “Gannon and Highmark have been working together to improve our city, our schools, our downtown and our region on several initiatives,” said Gannon President Keith Taylor, Ph.D. “We are excited to expand our partnership as we work toward transforming the lives of those we serve and focus on our responsibility to improve the world around us.”
“We are very excited to enter this partnership with Gannon University to advance and elevate what is truly a hub of athletic activity and a landmark in our downtown area,” said Jim Teed, vice president of Regional Markets, Highmark Inc.
(L-R) Christopher Clark, DO, president of AHN Saint Vincent; Lisa Goddard-McGuirk, director of Athletics; Keith Taylor, Ph.D., president of Gannon; Jim Teed, vice president of Regional Markets, Highmark Inc.; and Barbara Beuscher, CFRE, vice president for university advancement, celebrate the naming of the Highmark Events Center.
3. IT IS A RECRUITING JEWEL FOR GANNON ATHLETICS.
The Highmark Center will provide Gannon with a tremendous recruiting advantage when competing for the best student-athletes in the country.
This academic year, Gannon welcomed the largest enrollment in its history with more than 4,700 students, including about 700 NCAA Division II athletes. The Highmark Center will further this trajectory toward recruitment successes.
“The facility will communicate that Gannon Athletics is a priority for the university and that the student-athlete experience is high on the list for our administration and community,” said Cleve Wright, head women’s basketball coach. “I anticipate this facility helping us to compete for high-level recruits all over the country and out of the country.”
Sample rendering of the lobby in the Higmark Events Center.
4. IT BREATHES NEW LIFE INTO THE FORMER HAMMERMILL CENTER.
Gannon’s athletic complex has been the home for Golden Knight teams since the basketball programs began to play there during the 1949-50 season.
The facility was originally known as the Gannon Auditorium and affectionately referred to as “The Audi” by longtime Gannon faithful. The facility was rededicated and renamed the Hammermill Center – “The Mill” – in February of 1983 in honor of the generosity of the then Hammermill Paper Co. The university celebrated the official renaming of the Highmark Events Center in February 2022.
5. IT REPRESENTS A MILESTONE IN GANNON’S NEXT CENTURY CAMPAIGN.
This project is a signature of the university’s Believe. Inspire. Transform. Gannon’s Next Century campaign, adding to rapid progress toward the $100 million goal. Gannon has raised $5.5 million toward the project and nearly $65 million toward the campaign goal.
By Brianna Mariotti, content marketing strategist
We’ve embarked on a bold $100 million comprehensive fundraising campaign in pursuit of our mission to believe in, inspire and transform our students to live lives of impact around the globe. Goals of this campaign will lead to incredible outcomes in the areas of academic excellence, student experience, the Gannon Fund and campus enhancements. Ultimately, Gannon’s next century campaign will provide the resources we need to continue fully living out our mission of transforming students’ lives through high-quality, affordable academic experiences.
Join us at campaign.gannon.edu.