All Online Exclusives

Bringing the W&M Athletics Complex from Vision to Reality

November 29, 2021
By Jacob A. Miller ’18

For decades, Kaplan Arena, previously known as William & Mary Hall, has been a hub of campus activity, where fans cheer on the Tribe to nail-biting victories, student-athletes practice and the William & Mary community gathers for ceremonies and events of all kinds. The university is now one step closer to revitalizing it — and building a new state-of-the-art Sports Performance Center — thanks to new gifts totaling more than $1.1 million from several donors for the new W&M Athletics Complex.

“The complex will help ensure our facilities match the excellence of our programs and will enhance the athletics experience for our entire community,” said W&M Athletics Director Brian Mann. “Every single one of our student-athletes study, train and perform at their highest level and push the boundaries of what it means to be All In. I am grateful to our alumni, friends, and Tribe faithful who are also All In in support of our reimagined home of W&M Athletics.”

Three new gifts totaling more than $1.1 million were made by All In Campaign Chair Sue Hanna Gerdelman ’76, P ’07, P ’13, Robey “Rob” Estes Jr. ’74, P ’06 and Jean Berger Estes ’75, P ’06 and Scott Custer ’79 and Betsy Custer. Other gifts, including those from James R. “Jim” Kaplan ’57 and Jane Thompson Kaplan ’56, for whom the arena is named, have been essential to build momentum for the complex. To date, more than $39 million has been secured toward the $67-million project.

“I chose to give to the W&M Athletics Complex project because of the tremendous impact it will have on our student-athletes for decades to come,” said Gerdelman. “Getting the ball rolling early is absolutely key to the success of this project. My husband, John, was a student-athlete, and our family is full of avid Tribe fans, so it means the world to me to contribute to this project in a meaningful way.” 

Leadership gifts for this project were provided by honorary All In Co-Chairs Katie Garrett Boehly ’95 and Todd Boehly ’96, as well as Jennifer Tepper Mackesy ’91 and D. Scott Mackesy ’91. The Mackesys made an additional gift earlier this year to revitalize the outdoor tennis facility — now named the Mackesy Tennis Center — which is also part of the complex, as well as the construction of two new practice fields at the Dillard Complex for the benefit of soccer and lacrosse.

A phased approach

The complex encompasses Kaplan Arena, a new Sports Performance Center adjacent to the arena, the Mackesy Tennis Center, Busch Field and the Tribe Field Hockey Center. The project will include approximately 167,000 square feet of renovated and new spaces.

Renovations will occur in two phases. Phase one will include construction of the Sports Performance Center with a new sports medicine area and strength and conditioning spaces that will benefit all 23 sports, in addition to a new dedicated practice court. This phase will also include renovated locker rooms, light renovations in Kaplan Arena and a new videoboard and lighting for the arena. In order to complete phase one, the university needs to raise an additional $6 million.

Phase two will improve Kaplan Arena seating and fan amenities and will also expand and renovate the entry lobby and building façade to create a new entry and gathering space.

“Providing improved opportunities for all of our athletes and Tribe fans at William & Mary is the only way we will continue to excel in the future,” said Rob and Jean Estes. “We have fond memories of William & Mary Hall’s early days — now, all these years later, we are proud to be helping to create the foundation for the next iteration of the complex.”

Just like the teams who will utilize the new facilities to train, study and compete, achieving the vision for the reimagined W&M Athletics complex will rely on the support and teamwork of many alumni, parents, friends and others across the entire William & Mary community.

“We can have a tremendous impact when we come together to support what is important to us,” said Gerdelman. “There are so many opportunities to give to this project, big and small —all of these contributions help our students, coaches and support staff reach their highest potential in competition and in the classroom.” 

“It will take the entirety of the William & Mary community to see this project through to the end,” said Scott Custer. “We feel privileged to play a part of this renovation and construction because we know how much it will help our students for years to come — they deserve it.” 

“We are both honored to give back to the place that has given us so much over the years. Supporting W&M Athletics has and continues to be a passion of ours,” said Jim and Jane Kaplan.

“I was a former student-athlete myself, so we fully understand the need to have the very best facilities to train and compete in and we are proud to help get this project off the ground,” added Jim.

The complex, which is largely funded through private support, in addition to financing and seat licensing opportunities, will enable all student-athletes, coaches and fans to experience the same caliber of excellence in W&M Athletics as in W&M academics. 

In March 2021, William & Mary launched the All In campaign for athletics. With a goal of $55 million, the university aims to reimagine the home of W&M Athletics, to strengthen athletics’ financial foundation and to provide for the future.

“It is so important that we complete this project and transform our athletics facilities, and to do so in a way that provides equitable opportunities for all our student-athletes,” said Mann.

How you can help today

If you are interested in supporting the W&M Athletics Complex project, please visit the giving page, check out this list of naming opportunities or contact Brian Mann at or (757) 221-3332.