New RIT arena to be named the Gene Polisseni Center

The Rochester Institute of Technology’s forthcoming arena will be known as the Gene Polisseni Center.

The announcement came during the first intermission of Friday night’s game at the Frank Ritter Arena between RIT and Air Force.

Naming of the new rink results from a $4.5 million partnership between the Polisseni Foundation and B. Thomas Golisano, founder and chairman of Paychex, Inc., and an RIT trustee. The $4.5 million commitment becomes the most recent and most significant gift in support of Tiger Power Play – The Campaign for RIT Hockey, which aims to raise $15 million of the total $30 million cost of construction for the new arena.

Gene Polisseni, who founded the Polisseni Foundation with his wife, Wanda, served as vice president of marketing at Paychex until his death in 2001.

“My father believed that sports were key to building a strong sense of community,” said Gary Polisseni, Polisseni Foundation board member, in a news release. “The success of RIT’s hockey program has become a unifying force for the Rochester community and the Polisseni Foundation is proud to enhance that connection through its commitment to help build the Gene Polisseni Center.”

Tiger Power Play – The Campaign for RIT Hockey kicked off in November 2010 to solicit alumni and other supporters in fundraising for a new on-campus arena. The Polisseni-Golisano partnership provides the third commitment of $1 million or more to the campaign since that launch.

The new rink will feature state-of-the-art amenities and approximately double the seating capacity of Ritter Arena, which accommodates 2,100 fans.

“RIT enjoys a tradition of hockey excellence, including national championships at the Division II and Division III levels and our 2010 appearance in the NCAA Division I Frozen Four tournament,” added RIT president Bill Destler. “We are now in need of a facility that will heighten our status among the elite programs in collegiate hockey.”

A timeframe for the start of construction has not yet been determined.