Ricci family’s $5 million gift will support marching band and RecSports

Author: Sue Lister

Kenn and Pamela Ricci Kenn and Pamela Ricci

Kenn and Pamela Ricci of Willoughby, Ohio, have made a $5 million gift to the University of Notre Dame for a project that will create an outdoor home for the Band of the Fighting Irish and a world-class facility for students participating in RecSports.

The facility, located adjacent to Stepan Center and to be named Ricci Family Fields, will be used by the Notre Dame marching band as a rehearsal field. The fully lit, artificial turf football field, complete with a band director’s tower, will enable the Band of the Fighting Irish to practice in the same location on a consistent basis throughout football season for the first time in its 170-year history. When not in use by the band, Ricci Family Fields will be used for more than 1,000 games and by 10,000 students participating in various RecSports activities annually.

The Ricci Family Fields project will also include a new storage building, restrooms and locker room facilities to meet the needs of the Band of the Fighting Irish. The restrooms will also be available for year-round use by RecSports, in addition to the locker rooms when not occupied by the band.

Construction of the three synthetic turf fields and support building is scheduled to begin in spring of 2017, immediately following the completion of a geothermal well field. Ricci Family Fields are expected to be completed by August of 2017.

“We are grateful for Kenn and Pamela’s generous gift, which will not only impact the marching band and students participating in RecSports, but will also allow the University to continue to pursue our ambitious path toward carbon reduction,” said John Affleck-Graves, University executive vice president. “The Ricci Family Fields construction project creates an opportunity to build a 1,350-ton geothermal well field beneath the new playing fields, therefore maximizing the benefits to the University from this single important site.”

Noting the impact on student life at Notre Dame, Erin Hoffmann Harding, vice president for student affairs, said, “The Riccis’ gift will not only ensure the band has a first-rate, permanent home to practice, but will serve generations of students through our nationally renowned club and intramural sports programs."

Kenn Ricci, a 1978 graduate of Notre Dame with a bachelor’s degree in accountancy, was a member of the marching band as an undergraduate. He earned a juris doctorate from Cleveland State University.

“The band in many ways is the audio spirit of Notre Dame and we are very proud to contribute to its continuing mission and successes,” Kenn Ricci said. The Ricci family’s previous gifts to Notre Dame include the Ricci Band Rehearsal Hall, the Ricci Band Musical Excellence fund, the President’s Circle and financial aid.

Newly elected as a member of the University’s Board of Trustees, Ricci has spent more than 30 years developing innovative services in the aviation industry. He is the principal of Directional Aviation Capital, which operates a family of private aviation companies, including Flexjet, Flight Options, Sentient Jet, Skyjet, Nextant Aerospace, Constant Aviation and Corporate Wings.

The author of “Management by Trust,” a book that features practical techniques for building employee trust and success, Ricci has been honored as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and received the William Ong Memorial Award for meritorious service to the aviation industry, as well as the Harvard Business School’s Dively Award for Entrepreneurship. He is currently on the boards of University Hospitals and the Smithsonian. He has been actively involved with Notre Dame for over 25 years serving on the Undergraduate Experience Advisory Council and Business Advisory Council.

The Riccis have three children — Kennedy, a Notre Dame senior; Austin; and Elizabeth.

Contact: Sue Lister, director of media relations, 574-631-7916, sue.lister@nd.edu