News - May 5, 2010

Arrillaga-funded gym will bear his name

by Sean Howell

Palo Alto land developer John Arrillaga has lent his family's name to several athletic facilities on the Stanford campus. Now one in Menlo Park will bear the name, as well.

The new gymnasium Mr. Arrillaga is helping the city finance will be christened the Arrillaga Family Gymnasium when it opens in the fall, the result of a unanimous vote by the City Council at its meeting Tuesday, April 27.

The council waived a city policy stipulating that facilities can only be named after a deceased person, five or more years after the person's death. The policy also states that facilities can only be named after people who have made "major, overriding contributions to the city."

There wasn't any disagreement among council members that Mr. Arrillaga has met that criterion. Having played and coached basketball for over 30 years at the Burgess Gymnasium, he stepped in after hearing that the city was short on funds and agreed to build the gym himself, with a $5.8 million contribution from the city. The city has estimated Mr. Arrillaga's share of the cost at $8 million or more.

"I would just like to express our deep gratitude to Mr. Arrillaga for his very generous contribution, and the amazing construction job," Councilwoman Kelly Fergusson said before the council vote.

The city has twice waived the policy in recent years: to name the Burgess Park Little League field in honor of Tom Harrison in 2004, and to add the name of former city manager Mike Bedwell to Bayfront Park in 2008.

Construction is well under way on the gymnasium, located off Alma Street in the Civic Center complex, with the building scheduled to open in September.

Visit for time-lapse photography of the construction.


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