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University of Bridgeport

University of Bridgeport

University of Bridgeport

University of Bridgeport

University of Bridgeport

University of Bridgeport

University of Bridgeport

University of Bridgeport

Banners give old facilities fresh look
by Coach & AD Magazine. April/May 2016

University of Bridgeport’s athletic facilities were in need of upgrades, but with limited funding for improvements the program was forced to get creative.

The result wasn’t a multi-million dollar stadium improvement or new field house — it was banners. The simple cosmetic makeover provided the Connecticut university’s  “outdated and dingy” facilities with a fresh look, one that pays homage to the program’s achievements and the athletes responsible for them.

“It’s a lot like night and day,” said Director of Athletics Anthony Vitti, describing the recent changes. “There’s a lot you can do with a little bit of paint and some banners. It’s created a good atmosphere and it livened up the place.”

It all started in 2013. The athletic department was looking for ways to modernize its facilities, and aesthetic improvements were one of the easiest projects it could undertake within the constraints of its funding.

Vitti said the weight room was expanded, and a strength and conditioning decal was put on the wall with the university’s logo. Additional images were put on the weight room windows and a nearby stairwell.

In the gymnasium, the university replaced its outdated images with banners showcasing the program’s regional and conference championships along with studentathletes from the basketball and volleyball teams. Vitti said the university added more than 20 banners in all from BigSigns.com, and additional improvements could be on the horizon.

“We would love to get that done on the soccer and lacrosse facilities, but the budget didn’t allow for it,” Vitti said. “That’s something we’re still looking at, and hopefully in the future we can get that done.”

Athletic department leaders knew years ago they wanted to upgrade the look of their facilities, but they weren’t quite sure how to do it. Vitti said he looked at what other schools had done, and some used pictures of student-athletes, coaches or mascots
on their banners. The University of Bridgeport ultimately decided to use images of its athletes, though Vitti said most of those students are no longer playing with their respective teams.

Many athletic departments have opted to use logos to avoid purchasing new banners every time someone exits the program, though Vitti said the change is an inexpensive one.

After all the images and sizes were worked out with BigSigns.com, it took just a couple months to get the banners in place. They brought a great sense of pride to the program, and Vitti also believes it affects recruiting. Prospective athletes who visit campus are now ushered through facilities that offer a cleaner look and a celebration of the program’s achievements.

“Our building was built in 1955 so there were a lot of challenges, but just adding to the cosmetic look helps a lot,” Vitti said. “There are a lot of elements that need improving, but we’re happy with where we are right now.”

Unexpected challenges often surface in facilities projects, but Vitti said that wasn’t the case in his department. Funding was available through a number of fundraisers held throughout the year, and decisions regarding images for the banners were largely in his hands, eliminating the red tape.

Vitti’s advice to athletic directors going through similar projects is to do the research and create a plan specifically designed to fit their institutions. What works at one facility may not fit at another, but it’s still valuable to see what other programs are doing to put the creative process in motion.

“It took us about three to four years to do the whole facility, but we’re really excited about it,” Vitti said. “Everyone is visible, and they can see the success that we’ve had.”

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