$17.5 million gift signals new era for Penn Athletics

A generous commitment from Wharton alumnus Jay Alix will support the construction of a new indoor track & field facility, the first of its kind in greater Philadelphia.

The University of Pennsylvania today announced a $17.5 million gift to The Penn Track & Field and Cross-Country Campaign for Excellence from Jay Alix, a 1977 graduate of the Wharton School, noted philanthropist, and founder of AlixPartners, the global consulting firm. This milestone gift will support the centerpiece of the Campaign, a planned indoor track and field facility to be located at the southeast corner of campus. Alix’s gift provides vital support that will allow construction to begin on this long-planned project. Once complete, the new track & field center will be the only collegiate indoor facility of its kind in the greater Philadelphia region.

Alix’s commitment complements a lead gift from Wharton alumni Jane Ott and David Ott and will name the Jay Alix Throws Area in the new Jane and David Ott Center for Track & Field.

“We are incredibly grateful to Jay Alix for this extraordinary gift, which provides the additional support needed to turn a decades-long dream into reality,” said Interim Penn President Wendell Pritchett. “The new track & field center will have a dramatic impact on Penn’s program, enhancing our ability to recruit and develop scholar-athletes into leaders on and off the field.”

The planned 73,000-square-foot structure will be located behind the existing Hollenback Center near the South Street Bridge. Designed specifically for track and field, it will include a six-lane, 200-meter banked track; an eight-lane sprint track; dedicated areas for field events; and seating for spectators during competitions. Construction is slated to begin in August 2022.

For Alix, this gift is personal. “My time at Penn was made all the more memorable by training and competing as a thrower, often in inclement weather. Track and field is an incredibly diverse sport and serves as an ideal platform for students to develop the teamwork and leadership skills that will serve them far beyond their college years. Investing in these talented student-athletes is more important than ever. I am pleased to help launch this new facility into construction. It will build on Penn’s legacy of track and field achievement to create an even brighter future for Penn athletes.”

The planned Ott Center will offer countless benefits to Penn’s track and field athletes. “This modern venue will not only allow us to attract elite scholar-athletes but will also serve as a home for Penn’s cross country and track & field teams. Enhancing the training and competition facilities for our talented student-athletes sends a strong message that Penn Track & Field is committed to helping them reach their full potential,” said Steve Dolan, James P. Tuppeny/Betty J. Costanza Director of Track & Field/Cross-Country.

Alanna Shanahan, the T. Gibbs Kane, Jr., W’69, Director of Athletics and Recreation, sees the impact through an even wider lens. “We are so thankful to Jay for his generosity to this project and the Penn Track & Field and Cross-Country Campaign for Excellence. With new, state-of-the-art facilities like the Jay Alix Throws Area in the Ott Center, Penn Athletics is elevating its profile nationally while expanding the experiences we offer our scholar-athletes. As former executive director of the Penn Relays, track and field is a sport close to my heart. In addition to inspiring excellence for Penn’s track and field athletes, the Ott Center will also have a positive impact far beyond athletics, serving as a welcoming hub for recreation and wellness for the greater Penn and West Philadelphia communities.”