College Sports

Sacramento State announces fundraising campaign to build events center

Coach Brian Katz guided the Sacramento State men’s team to a 21-12 record. The Hornets finished third in the Big Sky .
Coach Brian Katz guided the Sacramento State men’s team to a 21-12 record. The Hornets finished third in the Big Sky . rbenton@sacbee.com

Sacramento State officials hope to ride the momentum of breakthrough seasons for the men’s and women’s basketball teams to the construction of a new multi-purpose campus events center.

University officials announced on Thursday night while honoring the teams that they are launching a one-year grassroots fundraising campaign to raise seed money from alumni and community supporters to help build the proposed 5,000-seat, $125 million facility. It would host sporting events, concerts, graduations, speakers and meetings.

“The Power of 1,000 Hornets” hopes to raise more than $1 million from 1,000 contributors. The impetus for the campaign came from a suggestion in December by Bee columnist Ailene Voisin after students resoundingly voted down a $219 fee increase to construct the proposed building in the center of campus. Voisin said the events center could be constructed if each of the 100,000 Sac State alumni in the Sacramento metropolitan area contributed $1,140.

During the ceremony in The Well, the campus recreation center that was built with student dollars, Sac State booster and longtime basketball supporter Allie Beth Kenner announced a donation of $50,000 to help jump-start the campaign.

“You’ve got to strike while the iron is hot,” said Markus Jennings, the associate athletic director for external affairs and one of those spearheading the campaign. “It’s a little unorthodox for a normal capital campaign. But we thought this was a good way to get this going, and that people will jump on board.”

“It’s clear the university has a plan,” said men’s basketball coach Brian Katz, whose team finished 21-12 and third in the Big Sky Conference while playing in the Nest, Sac State’s 1,012-seat gym, one of the smallest in the nation among Division-I schools. “They are going to find a way to make this work. And as I have said all along, it’s not just a basketball thing. It’s a benefit to the entire university and will affect how everyone who will step on the campus, and everyone who has stepped foot on the campus, perceives themselves.”

Sac State athletic director Bill Macriss said the ideal goal would be to raise enough money through alumni, corporate donations and partnerships, naming rights and seat sales that they won’t have to ask the students for a fee hike.

“We don’t want to lay this at any one group’s feet,” Macriss said. “In the past, we have tried public-private partnerships and couldn’t make it pencil out. We’ve gone to the students and have had success at times and not had success at times. There are so many different ways we can approach this, and by doing this fundraising campaign, we’re showing the students and community how serious we are.”

Call The Bee’s Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.

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