By Elizabeth Coss
During the nationally-broadcasted men’s basketball game Jan. 27, Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel stepped onto the court and delivered the announcement that YSU will build a new student center to replace Kilcawley Center.
Replacing or renovating the center has been talked about by the board of trustees and president for several years, but because of a $5 million donation kickstarter from the Zoldan Family, the new building will become a reality.
Tressel said the new center was one of the last steps he wanted to finalize while president.
“I’ve kind of felt that this was the last one that we had to get going,” Tressel said. “I’m hoping it only takes a year or 18 months to raise what we need and we’re going to begin the planning and so forth then, hopefully in three or four years, [events] will be in a brand new Zoldan Family Center.”
Tressel also said that as time moves forward, there will always be changes to the university.
“I think back to all the fun times we’ve had [in Kilcawley Center] and the great service that this building has given us, but there’s a time for new. There’s a time for a new president and there’s a time for a new student center, and I’m proud to be a part of it,” Tressel said.
According to YSU’s News Center, the donation is equivalent to the largest gift given to the university in its history.
The Zoldan Family, the founders and owners of Phantom Fireworks, have donated to the university before. According to YSU’s News Center, the family previously donated a $1 million gift in 2020 to establish scholarship opportunities for students.
Joy Polkabla-Byers, associate vice president of Student Experience, explained what the donation means for the university moving forward.
“This is a donation that will be the naming rights of the facility,” Byers said. “[The building] will be the Zoldan Center and at this point we’re moving forward with setting the plans in place and looking at architects and continuing to raise funds for the rest of the building.”
Byers said the new center is estimated at being a $40 million project, but construction will not affect the Andrews Student Recreation and Wellness Center or Kilcawley House.
Byers also said she was excited to see the heart of campus grow stronger with a new center, but it won’t be an end for Tressel’s contributions to the university.
“[Tressel’s] not done yet. I guarantee he’s going to be involved in this project from start to finish,” Byers said. “There’s still lots of opportunities to figure out what we need and I think it’s really important that we’re still thinking about the future.”
The university will be working with the YSU Foundation in terms of fundraising and garnering more funds to build the new center.
No date has been given as to when construction could begin, but Byers said it may take 10 and a half years total to see a final product.