UMass announces $2 million gift to renovate Curry Hicks Cage as indoor track & field facility

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  • Pioneer's Ryan Potter (11) and Mahar's Jake Tenney (14) vie for a loose ball in the second half Saturday at the Curry Hicks Cage on the campus of UMass during a Dec. 8, 2018 basketball game. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 2/14/2023 1:27:52 PM
Modified: 2/14/2023 6:04:20 PM

The Cage is dead. Long live the Cage.

A $2 million gift from Dr. Jim and Ellen Hunt will serve as the lead gift in the UMass athletic department’s fundraising campaign to renovate Curry Hicks Cage, which last hosted a UMass basketball game in 2011 and now serves as the track and field program’s training facility.

Organized basketball hasn’t been played at the Cage since the Western Massachusetts high school semifinals and finals in early March 2020. 

The estimated $8 million project, which will eventually be named after the Hunts, will create an new indoor practice facility for the track and field and cross country programs.

“The former Cage has tremendous memories for me, and I recall congregating with teammates before and after practice in the ancient locker room and around the facility. It was a historic time for cross country and track and field, as I had the honor of competing with six different All-Americans at UMass,” Jim Hunt said in a release. “Ellen and I are pleased to make this gift, knowing it will have a tremendous influence on the experiences and lives of future student-athletes.”  

Jim Hunt competed for the Minutemen track team during his days at UMass and still holds school records in the 800-meter, half mile and 4x800-meter relay.

The eventual two-level facility will honor the program’s history with a grand lobby entrance. The lower practice area will be covered with a track surface and feature a sprint straightaway along with areas for throwing and jumping events. The second level will have a practice track and areas for non-impact training.

“I want to acknowledge Jim and Ellen for this significant gift,” UMass Director of Cross Country & Track and Field David Jackson said in a release. “The renovated performance center will be a game-changer for our programs. We will have one of the premier training facilities in the Northeast that will allow our student-athletes optimum space and resources to develop while at UMass.” 

UMass expects $5 million of the $8 million to come from private philanthropy. The current fundraising total stands at $3.8 million.

The athletic department has targeted June 30 to secure the remaining funding and move the project forward.

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