One of the finest college arenas for spectator involvement and enthusiasm, the Reilly Center provides the Bonnies basketball teams with a tremendous home court advantage.
Since it opened in 1966, the Reilly Center has been the focal point for the renowned St. Bonaventure spirit. On game nights, the Reilly Center is the "place to be" not only on campus but throughout the entire region. Students are known to stand in line for hours prior to tipoff in order to gain the best courtside seats. Season ticket holders pass on their seats through generations. Bonnies fans are just as passionate as they are loyal, and they pack the Reilly Center to cheer their beloved Bonnies.
One national college men's basketball analyst agrees. Jay Bilas, in a 2001 ESPN.com feature, ranked the Reilly Center as one of his "Top 5 Hostile Homes" in the nation.
The arena and entire building has been improved dramatically over the past eight years. Chairback seats have replaced the bleachers on the floor level. A state-of-the-art scoreboard hangs from the rafters. In December of 1998, the St. Bonaventure Athletic Hall of Fame opened at the south end of the RC. This 4,200-square foot addition features theater-style seating, display areas for plaques, awards, trophies, uniforms and a pair of LeRoy Neiman original paintings. Such Bona notables as the 1970 Final Four trophy, the 1977 NIT Championship trophy and baseball Hall of Famer John McGraw's baseball jersey are on display in the latest crown jewel of Bona athletics. New banners commemorating Bonnies basketball achievements were hung on the Reilly Center walls, including a 2000 NCAA Tournament banner.
What has not changed is the fact that when the Bonnies tip off in front of a normally packed house, the atmosphere is most definitely loud and sometimes overwhelming for an unsuspecting visiting team.
St. Bonaventure opponents have learned that lesson over and over since the RC's opening 36 years ago on Dec. 2, 1966. That game against Quincy College would be win number one at the Reilly Center.
In 1997-98, the Bonnies tallied victory No. 300, and it came against rival Canisius.
Originally named the University Center, the building was dedicated to the memory of Carroll "Mike" Reilly '25 on June 1, 1974. Reilly was a Bona student-athlete, faculty member, football-basketball coach and athletic director. He is also a member of the St. Bonaventure Athletic Hall of Fame.
The RC has seen its share of great games and great players. The Bonnies men's team has hosted 24 teams that were nationally ranked at the time, including the No. 1 team twice. They have defeated nine of those Top 25 opponents.
Entering the 2005-06 season, St. Bonaventure has an overall record of 358-143 at the Reilly Center, a .723 winning percentage. The Bonnies have twice put together 23-game win streaks at home.
With capacity crowds of Bona fanatics, the Reilly Center gives St. Bonaventure teams one of the greatest home court advantages in the nation. The fan base consists of fiercely loyal students, local residents, alumni, faculty and staff. The Reilly Center is one of the few on-campus athletic facilities in the nation that can seat nearly twice the student population.
The Reilly Center has many purposes other than simply a basketball facility. It is the campus center, the social hub of the campus, a place where the Franciscan values of mutual respect and cooperation can be readily seen. Concerts, educational conferences, workshops and assorted performances are all held in the RC, as are the University commencement ceremonies.
Other facilities in the building include the bookstore, swimming pool, cafeteria, campus radio station, post office and offices for athletics and student life.
The Bonnies have played many memorable games at the Reilly Center over the years. Among them:
- In the first game ever held at the RC, St. Bonaventure defeated Quincy College, 100-64, before a crowd of 4,276. Jeff Hazard led the way for the Bonnies with 29 points.
- In 1969, Bob Lanier was stepping on every college team that dared cross his path. Not only did he already hold the Reilly Center record for rebounds in a game with 27, but against Seton Hall on Feb. 24, Lanier scored a school and RC record 51 points in a 97-79 win.
- On Dec. 21, 1969, the largest crowd ever to witness a game at the Reilly Center saw the Bonnies defeat Duquesne University 77-58. The standing room only crowd of 6,291 flooded the aisles and any available spots on the floor.
- On Jan. 10, 1995, Bona hosted the No. 1 ranked team in the country, Massachusetts, for the first time at the Reilly Center. The Bonnies controlled the tempo throughout the game, and when senior David Vanterpool hit an off balance shot late in regulation to tie the score, the game went into overtime. After leading by four points with two minutes to play in overtime, St. Bonaventure bowed 81-76.
- Win number 1,000 in St. Bonaventure basketball history came to be in a 69-66 Atlantic 10 victory over Rhode Island on Feb. 4, 1995.
- St. Bonaventure played its first-ever home postseason game during the 1995 NIT when they hosted Southern Mississippi in round one. Tickets to the game sold out in a mere four hours. More than 6,000 fans watched as the Bonnies prevailed 75-70.
- During the 1997-98 season, St. Bonaventure defeated three Top 20 teams at the RC. Thirteenth-ranked Xavier (80-77), 20th-ranked Rhode Island (86-81) and 20th-ranked Massachusetts (72-70, 2OT) fell, much to the delight of the Bona faithful.
- January 15, 2000, in a game many fans described as the best they had ever seen in the RC, J.R. Bremer's three-pointer with 2.8 seconds left gave the Bonnies a 57-56 win over 13th-ranked Temple.
- February 9, 2002, the Bonnies snapped Xavier's 12-game winning streak - which was at the time the longest in the nation -- with an 80-79 decision.