NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS

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    Welsh-Ryan Arena for Volleyball

    The Big Ten Conference is known for its enthusiastic, record-setting crowds and first-class facilities, and Northwestern's Welsh-Ryan Arena is no exception. When opponents arrive to play a game in Evanston, they know they're in for quite a battle.

    Northwestern volleyball fans find themselves seated inches from the action on the court, making for an intimidating atmosphere for Wildcat opponents. Fans have the luxury of theatre-style seating in the 2,000 purple seats along the south side of the court. Every seat in Welsh-Ryan Arena boasts an unobstructed view, bringing the fans closer to the game.

    McGaw Memorial Hall was built in 1952 in part to accommodate a meeting of the World Council of Churches at the University. A renovation of McGaw Hall began on June 21, 1982, and was sufficiently completed by June 18, 1983, to accommodate Northwestern's 125th commencement exercises. However, the structure to which the Wildcats returned in 1983-84 was not the same one they had left 12 months earlier. The $6.75 million renovation of the building had dramatically altered its interior, with the biggest improvement being the completion of Welsh-Ryan Arena.

    The arena's construction included a new hardwood playing surface; 2,000 theatre-style seats, and more than 6,000 permanently fixed wooden bleachers, increasing the arena's seating capacity by nearly 15 percent; and a four-sided scoreboard hanging over midcourt, featuring full animation capabilities.

    Still considered one of the top facilities of its size in the nation, Welsh-Ryan Arena is situated at the south end of McGaw Hall, and has a seating capacity of 8,117. Among the Big Ten's volleyball venues, Welsh-Ryan Arena ranks fourth in size. The first intercollegiate athletic event held in Welsh-Ryan Arena was a women's volleyball match between the Wildcats and Illinois-Chicago on September 2, 1983.

    The arena is named in recognition of a leadership gift to the $21 million Athletic Facilities Campaign by the Patrick G. Ryan family of Kenilworth, Ill. Ryan, chairman of Northwestern's Board of Trustees, is president and chief executive officer of AON Corporation. The name-gift pledge to the Campaign was made by the Ryan family in honor of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Patrick G. Ryan, Sr., and his wife Shirley's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert J. Welsh, Sr.

    In 1996, as part of the $20 million Campaign for Athletic Excellence, various facilities in McGaw Hall were updated and improved. New wood courts were added to the back of McGaw Hall for extra practice and playing time for the volleyball, men's basketball and women's basketball teams. Additionally, the main playing court in Welsh-Ryan Arena was refurbished and repainted.

    McGaw Hall was officially dedicated on January 18, 1953, although the first game in it was played on December 6, 1952, with the Northwestern men's basketball team taking on Western Michigan. The fieldhouse was donated to the University by Foster G. McGaw and friends in memory of his father, the Reverend Francis A. McGaw, a Presbyterian minister who died at his mission in Nairobi, Africa, in 1942.

    Directions to Welsh-Ryan Arena - by Car:

    Welsh-Ryan Arena is located just beyond the north end zone of Ryan Field. Cash parking is available in both the east and west parking lots adjacent to Ryan Field and Welsh-Ryan Arena.

    From the North:
    Take I-94 to Skokie Blvd/Route 41 Exit. Exit ramp becomes Skokie Blvd. Continue South to Lake Ave (2nd traffic light). Turn left on Lake Ave. and proceed east to Green Bay Road. Turn right on Green Bay Road and proceed to Central Street. Turn left on Central Street to Welsh-Ryan Arena.

    From the South:
    Take I-90/94. Where I-90 and I-94 split, take I-94 (Milwaukee). Follow I-94 to Old Orchard Road. Turn right (east) on Old Orchard Road and proceed to Gross Point Road. Turn left on Gross Point Road to Central Street (first light). Turn right on Central Street and continue to Welsh-Ryan Arena.

    From the West:
    Take I-55, I-88, or I-90 to I-294 north to Dempster Street east. Follow Dempster Street east to McCormick Blvd.. Turn left on McCormick Blvd. and proceed to Green Bay Road. Turn left on Green Bay Road and proceed two lights to Central Street. Turn right on Central Street to Welsh-Ryan Arena.

    Directions to Welsh-Ryan Arena - from O'Hare Airport:

    Take I-294 north to Dempster Street east. Follow Dempster Street east to McCormick Blvd.. Turn left on McCormick Blvd. and proceed to Green Bay Road. Turn left on Green Bay Road and proceed two lights to Central Street. Turn right on Central Street to Welsh-Ryan Arena.

    Alternate Exit from I-294 and I-94: Take Touhy Avenue east and proceed to McCormick Blvd. Turn left on McCormick Blvd. and proceed to Green Bay Road. Turn left on Green Bay Road and proceed two lights to Central Street. Turn right on Central Street to Welsh-Ryan Arena.