From left: Charles R. Dees, Jr, PhD, NJIT Vice President for Advancement; NJIT President Robert A. Altenkirch; building donors Lenda and Vincent J. Naimoli; NJIT Athletic Director Lenny Kaplan
“I’m very pleased that the Naimoli family can help to provide state-of-the-art space that the NJIT community needs not only for recreational athletics, but for a wide range of other uses.”
NJIT opened yesterday a new 25,000-square-foot, 40-foot-high concrete facility, the largest indoor space on campus for activities ranging from tennis to career fairs.The Naimoli Family Athletic and Recreational Facility is an addition to the campus. It joins the existing family of NJIT physical fitness venues which include the four-story, 95,000-square-foot Fleisher Athletic Center and the 114,000 square-foot outdoor playing field and track known as Lubetkin Field at J. Malcolm Simon Stadium. The quartet — totaling 235,000 square feet — runs along the eastern side of Lock Street between Central Avenue and Warren Street.
At the dedication, from a festive stage gaily-adorned in vibrant red, white and blue oversized balloon arches, donor and long-time university friend and alum Vincent J. Naimoli with his wife Lenda alongside him, delivered a heartfelt speech to an audience topping 200 attentive student athletes, faculty, staff and friends.
Academic growth, the construction of new buildings, and improvements in the overall appearance of the campus have changed amazingly since his time on campus. He noted that adequate facilities for athletics and personal physical fitness remained an important part of that progress.
“They encourage activity that I feel is really valuable for a healthy outlook on life as well as a healthy body,” he said. “I’m very pleased that the Naimoli family can help to provide state-of-the-art space that the NJIT community needs not only for recreational athletics, but for a wide range of other uses.”
In closing, the Paterson native of humble origins, brought down the house when he shared his personal motto. “To whom much is given, much is expected,” he said invoking St. Luke (12:48). Following the official ribbon cutting, people left their seats to meander through an attractive assortment of red and white striped carts offering soda pop, hot pretzels, popcorn and hot dogs.
Naimoli, a businessman, is best known around the nation, especially among sports enthusiasts, as chairman emeritus and founder of the Tampa Bay Rays. He earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1962 from Newark College of Engineering and is a member of the NJIT Board of Overseers.
The Naimoli family has long been among NJIT’s most generous supporters. As chief executive officer of Anchor Industries International, Naimoli was voted 1995 Florida Entrepreneur of the Year in the turnaround category. In 1999, he received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, and in 2004 was inducted into the National Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame.
“We’re grateful for the generosity of the Naimoli family, who gives to NJIT in many ways,” said Charles R. Dees, Jr., PhD, Vice President for University Advancement. “I have known Vince Naimoli for many years, and would be hard put to name a more genuine, loyal, astute friend to this university. In my estimation, Vince rates MVP status among NJIT’s supporters for his gifts of time, talent and treasure that have marked this campus, and made a lasting difference here.”
The new facility will more than double the amount of space available for recreational sports, intramurals, athletic practice sessions and other school activities.
The Fleisher Athletic Center currently includes a 17,000 square feet gymnasium, a six-lane, 25-yard swimming pool, state-of-the-art fitness center, two weight rooms, sauna, training room, locker rooms, racquetball courts, and a jogging track. However it is old. Built in 1967 and expanded in 1990, it has been hard pressed to accommodate the needs of the university’s growing student body.
NJIT Athletic Director Lenny Kaplan said that plans for the fully air-conditioned Naimoli Recreational Facility include a floor surface suitable for a variety of indoor recreational sports and intramural competitions. The wood floor of the Fleisher Athletic Center provides a venue suited primarily for basketball and volleyball. “Our intention is that the new space will accommodate indoor tennis, soccer, cricket and other recreational activities,” Kaplan says. “But that’s not the full story. It will be ‘programmable’ space that allows multiple uses at the same time. We also see it as being available for pre-college programs, career fairs, conferences ― you name it.”