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$20 Million Gift From Alumnus Paul Tudor Jones Puts U.Va. Basketball Arena Project On The Fast Track 

October 29, 2001-- University of Virginia alumnus Paul Tudor Jones II, a Connecticut businessman and philanthropist, has pledged $20 million to his alma mater.

Jones' gift, a 10-year pledge to the U.Va. Department of Athletics, will allow the department to fast track a new basketball arena project, moving it quickly through the final planning stages to groundbreaking.

The announcement, made today by University President John T. Casteen III, comes just four months after an anonymous donor pledged an initial $20 million that allowed the University to proceed with plans for the $125 million, 12,000- to -15,000-seat arena.

"Paul Tudor Jones came forward with his customary generosity and business-like approach," Casteen said. "Paul has said more than once, 'Let's get things moving.' His gift pushes us much closer to doing exactly that, and will bring completion of the project nearer than we had earlier imagined.

"For many years he has helped to move the University forward in academics, and now he is doing the same for athletics. All of us at the University of Virginia are grateful to Paul - for both his generosity and his unfailingly energetic support."

Jones, 47, who graduated from U.Va. in 1976 with a degree in economics, is chairman of the Tudor Group in Greenwich, Conn., the money management firm he founded in the 1980s.

Since graduating, he has continued to lend his support to the university that he said helped him "develop a sense of personal honor. … I love the University of Virginia and everything about the way of life there."

This is the first time Jones has made a gift to the athletics department. But as a loyal U.Va. basketball fan from his student days to the present, he was one of the first alumni to strongly voice the need for a new arena to replace the aging University Hall and has been a driving force on the project ever since. He earlier provided funding that let the University engage architects and begin to conceptualize the future facility that he believes will be "in keeping with the University's national reputation."

Jones also looks at the need for a more modern facility through personal experience. "As my daughters have gotten older and I've had the opportunity to coach them as 9- and 10-year-olds in youth basketball leagues, the importance of team spirit and competition in their character development has really hit home with me and my wife Sonia," said Jones, the father of four children under 11. "It doesn't make a difference if you're a player or a fan. Athletic activity and competition are absolutely essential for everyone's health and mental well-being. … University of Virginia students deserve a better arena. It's long overdue. "

Jones said that he and President Casteen spent some time discussing the ramifications of the Sept. 11 national tragedy on his gift. "After much reflection - and having been transfixed like so many in the nation by the horrors that occurred - I became convinced, now more than ever, of the importance of pushing ahead with construction and giving the University community a recreational facility and gathering space consistent with our national stature." (University Hall, currently the largest venue at the University, is not air-conditioned and lacks the features of a modern, high-tech convocation center.)

Casteen believes that Jones' thoughtful analysis, as well as his previous gifts -- to the University and elsewhere -- set the tone for this fundraising campaign. "His dedication reaches all corners of the University. From his early backing of the Jefferson Scholars Program to his support of programs in business, finance and the environmental sciences," Casteen said, "Paul always has been a leader."

Jones is helping to finance construction of a 45,000-square-foot research addition to environmental sciences' Clark Hall with a $10 million challenge gift. With an earlier gift, he endowed a research professorship shared by the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration and the McIntire School of Commerce.

"Paul Jones has a vision for the future of the University that speaks to the total student experience, including both academics and athletics," said Craig K. Littlepage, director of athletics. "His gift allows us to take a step toward creating the type of facility that will further distinguish our basketball programs as national powers. At the same time, the new arena will bring together students, faculty, staff, and local fans for basketball contests, concerts and numerous special events." Littlepage said that he sees the arena as place to forge connections within the University community, as well with members of the Charlottesville/Albemarle community. 

An arena to replace University Hall has been a point of discussion for almost two decades. In October 1998, the University's Board of Visitors authorized strategic planning for the new arena, envisioned as a state-of-the-art multi-purpose facility. This past spring, the board included the project in the six-year capital outlay plan submitted to the state, and earlier this year it selected architects for the project.

The new facility - to be designed by VMDO Architects of Charlottesville in association with Ellerbe Becket of Kansas City, Missouri - will include between 12,000 and 15,000 seats, approximately 20 luxury suites, practice courts, athletics department offices, and an adjacent 1,500-car parking garage.

Slated for completion by the fall of 2006, the new arena will be located on Massie Road across from University Hall, the 36-year-old building it will replace. U-Hall is the smallest basketball stadium in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and long has faced criticism for its size and its design. When U-Hall was completed in 1965, the facility had far fewer demands on it. There were only 4,528 undergraduates as opposed to today's undergraduate population of 12,500. And there were only a handful of women students - and no women's athletics teams. 

Expanding U-Hall would be economically unfeasible, because the roof would have to be removed in order to add more seats, an earlier study concluded. No decision has yet been made on future uses for U-Hall. "Clearly," Jones said, "U-Hall could provide much-needed additional recreational space for students, faculty, and alumni in the future."

Outside the University and business communities, Paul Tudor Jones is probably best known as the founder of the Robin Hood Foundation, a 14-year-old organization dedicated to fighting poverty in New York City. (Robin Hood recently raised $50 million for victims of the Sept. 11 tragedy through a much-publicized rock concert that featured among its headliners Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan.)

While the majority of his philanthropic efforts are directed to education and people in need, Jones also is an ardent conservationist and serves on the boards of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Everglades Foundation, which he also helped found. 

Contacts: Rich Murray, (434) 982-5530, Carol Wood, (434) 924-6189

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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