With the city of Dayton
More than 150 years ago, when Father Leo Meyer presented John Stuart with a medal of St. Joseph and a promise, he did more than lay the groundwork for our great University — he tied the fate of the University to the fate of the city of Dayton.
Both have grown together; the city’s landscape has drastically changed, from boats traversing down canals to streets teeming with cars, and the University has radically transformed, from 12 primary school students at St. Mary's School for Boys to 10,900 students at today’s University. Both have persevered through difficult times, including the great flood of 1913, when the University, then known as St. Mary’s College, opened its doors to over 800 refugees.
This historic relationship courses through the University’s programs and initiatives — including the storied Flyers basketball program. Alumni and community members have witnessed — and been a part of — a century of great moments in Flyers basketball.
Vice President and Director of Athletics Neil Sullivan describes the Dayton community’s ties to Flyers basketball as “a deeply rooted tradition. I don’t think we could ever define it or replicate it. It’s in our DNA, and it is a result of the players, coaches and fans from every era of Dayton basketball. It’s cumulative, truly spanning generations.”
Given this long-standing emotional investment in Flyers basketball, it’s no surprise to see the tremendous amount of local support for the transformation of UD Arena. As of Dec. 4, 2017, 78 percent of the $31.5 million raised has come from Dayton-area community members and businesses.
And the community’s investment is sure to pay off. The upgraded fan experience enables the University to further its unrivaled run of hosting NCAA Tournament games — 113 games to be exact, more than any other venue in the tournament’s history. This streak not only brings exciting games to the Dayton area — it also provides a significant boost to the region’s economy; the First Four alone brings in $4.5 million annually.
Above all, the transformation will continue to build the basketball program, fueling more unforgettable moments for our family of fans to enjoy. Local entrepreneur Larry Connor, a longtime University partner and Flyers basketball fan, knows the project’s importance to the program and invested heavily to ensure its success.
“If you really want to be an elite program, long term, you have to do everything right,” said Connor, who has founded two tech companies and a real estate investment firm with operations in 12 markets. “Whether it’s coaches, recruits or facilities … I personally think the University has done a fabulous job assembling all of those pieces. This is the last big piece, in terms of facilities, to position the program.”
In regard to the community’s historic and massive support of Flyers basketball, Connor said, “I think it’s both community pride as well as great entertainment. Everybody wants to be part of something good, valuable and important. For a lot of Daytonians, that’s University of Dayton basketball.”