At an opening celebration on Thursday, Oct. 19, at Lawler Arena, the Merrimack community came together to check out the newest renovations to Merrimack Athletics’ house. More than 200 people gathered in the new Gallant Pavilion, which will greatly enhance the experience for athletes, fans, performers and audiences alike and makes Lawler Arena a premier venue for the College and the region.
“Athletics is a catalyst,” Gibson said. “We are positioned to be a catalyst for change at this institution. And this facility is a representation of that.”
The new premium seating area along with an updated Champions Club, formerly the Blue Line Club, and new media row were made possible thanks to a transformative gift from Richard H’15 and Susanna Gallant, longtime supporters of Merrimack Athletics and youth hockey in the Merrimack Valley.
“I’m just so proud to be here and to be part of this Merrimack family,” Gallant said. “For nearly 13 years, I’ve watched this College grow, from the buildings to the culture to the vision.”
Among the updates are the 3,700-square-foot pavilion that features an open viewing area and new premium seating behind the net on the north side of the rink. Walls separating the Champions Club from the rink were removed bringing fans closer to the action. Media members will now sit behind the visitors’ bench, and the Merrimack College Marching Band will perform during hockey games on the south side of the rink.
“This project represents what this College is capable of being,” said Merrimack College President Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D. “It is an enormous opportunity for us. It is getting to a level of excellence and sustaining it. This will be on national television a lot. It is going to show the world that Merrimack belongs.”
Both the women’s and men’s ice hockey teams will continue the celebrations with games on Friday, Oct. 20. The No. 13 women’s team will host Vermont at 2 p.m., followed by the men at 7 p.m. against Clarkson.
“As we consistently strive to provide a top quality experience for our athletes, the renovations to Lawler provide an enhanced playing experience and a further sense of pride in our home facility,” said Erin Hamlen, Merrimack women’s ice hockey head coach. “This new and improved experience for our players, fans and recruits certainly creates added excitement around Merrimack Hockey.”
Before the men’s game on Oct. 20, the Gallants will take part in a ceremonial puck drop. Additionally, Fr. Raymond Dlugos, O.S.A., vice president of mission and ministry, will offer a blessing for the new space.
In addition to hockey, Lawler hosts several Merrimack College men’s and women’s basketball games, campus events such as Relay For Life and the Spring Concert, as well as events for organizations and youth sports from across the Merrimack Valley.
“What a great venue Lawler Arena is for basketball,” said Joe Gallo, Merrimack men’s basketball head coach. “The upgrades are going to give the fans and our student-athletes an unbelievable game-day experience. I can not wait for this place to be rocking.”