Eric Paschall recalled the time he was on a recruiting visit to Villanova and didn't get a chance to see the Pavilion, a building then showing its age after nearly 30 years of use.
"My dad wanted to see it," Paschall said Friday. "He was like, 'What's that building over there?' I said, 'That's where we play.' My dad wanted to go but we never did."
The Wildcats' senior forward predicted every recruit will be taken through the building now that the $65 million renovation of Villanova's campus home for men's and women's basketball has been completed and given a new name, the Finneran Pavilion. The building honors William Finneran, a 1963 graduate of the university, for his $22.6 million gift to the project.
The building, which originally opened in 1986, held its grand reopening Friday night with the annual "Hoops Mania" celebration, where the 2018 national championship banner was raised and players received their rings.
Athletic director Mark Jackson said the three goals of the project were met: a modernized Division I facility, a satisfying fan experience, and a means of generating revenue. The entire undertaking was funded by 1,069 donors, according to a university release.
Jackson said the mission now is working out the bugs because "we've got things we've got to figure out and then we have to deliver.
"We have to deliver on fan experience and you don't know that it happens until you go through a sold-out game and have everybody packed in here," he said. "You have to make sure the concessions are queued the right way and everybody's parking has been thought through. We'll have hiccups and we'll have headaches, but we're excited about it."
The arena sports LED video screens, 3-D court projections, and state-of-the-art audio-visual technology. Students now will be seated at both ends of the court.
"It's great," senior guard Phil Booth said. "I've played in some arenas like this on the road, but to be here for a home game and play in this brand-new, top-of-the-line facility is going to be great. I can't wait. This will be a very cool experience."
"It's really nice and that 'wow' factor is definitely here when you walk in," said Adrianna Hahn, a senior guard on the women's basketball team.
The building has a new main entrance and a lobby with a display of the program's championship trophies and an interactive history.
Jackson said it was important for Wildcats coach Jay Wright to tell the story of the program.
"If you know anything about Jay, we play for those who came before us," he said. "He's done such a good job connecting those multiple generations. He really quarterbacked a lot of the storytelling."
Pieces of the 2016 national championship floor from Houston are in the Fitzgerald Club at ground level. Jackson said the 2018 San Antonio floor didn't arrive until June and discussions are ongoing on how to display it.
An extra seat was added to the existing capacity of 6,500 but will remain empty during games as part of the Lone Chair project, when the athletic department will honor one member of the military who lost his or her life, went missing in action, or was a prisoner of war.