Built in 1977, the James J. McCann Center is called home by the Marist men's and women's basketball and women's volleyball programs. Additionally, the building’s versatility makes it a highly-used practice venue by many of Marist's varsity teams. The building's namesake, James J. McCann (1880-1969), was a Poughkeepsie native and a strong supporter of Marist Athletics. Generous support from his charitable trust made the building's construction possible. Arguably one of the loudest basketball facilities in the MAAC, the McCann Arena provides a true home court advantage to the Red Foxes.
In September of 2011, the field house area of the McCann Center was re-branded as McCann Arena after a summer which saw significant construction take place in the entire building. Renovations were made to add space in the lobby and restrooms. A new maple floor covers the entire space within the arena. Three wood basketball practice courts were installed, and six state-of-the-art Spalding baskets were purchased through the generosity of the Red Fox Club
New seating was installed throughout the arena. A total of 1,244 chairback seats, measuring 21 inches in width, were installed on the East and West sidelines. A total of 122 chairback seats were also added to the south end of the arena. The band and student section were moved to the north end of the arena, placing them in closer proximity to the visiting team’s bench. The capacity of the arena maintains its previous listing of 3,200.
Two new 10’ x 15’ Daktronics LED video boards were installed in the Northeast and Southwest corners of the arena. A third LED display measuring 40 feet in length will reside at the scorer’s table on the East side of McCann Arena. A state-of-the-art control room was constructed on the second level of the McCann Center providing not only a space to control all three video boards on the day of the game and for special events. All video boards have the capability to broadcast live video, replays, animations, graphics, statistics, scoring and time. The video boards were purchased from Daktronics, who offers the most complete line of electronic scoreboards and display products of any company in the world. Daktronics features video displays at some of the nation’s premier venues including the New Meadowlands Stadium and Prudential Center.
A television platform was also added, which overlooks center court and is located at the top of the west side of the arena. The new platform provides clear sight lines for television cameras to operate.
In January of 2011, construction began on a new 11,660 square-foot addition to the James J. McCann Center exclusively for the men’s and women’s basketball programs. The facility is connected to the south end of the McCann Center. The men’s and women’s basketball addition was designed by the prestigious architectural firm of Robert A. Stern and opened in September 2011. Features of the facility include:
As part of the renovations, a hospitality suite was added above center court and will be used for special events throughout the basketball season.
The Red Fox Den is a hospitality area situated within the McCann Center. This space, utilized by the athletic department's booster club, provides a place for individuals to meet and socialize before, during and after home basketball games. Located on the second level of the McCann Center, with large windows overlooking the court, it is a prime location that is a benefit to Red Fox Club members. The Den opens an hour and a half prior to every home game and is also open at half-time and after the game.
The Den includes a cash bar with soda, beer and wine. Marist’s head coaches make an appearance at the conclusion of every men's and women's basketball home game to break down the team's performance and answer questions that members may have.
Division I basketball was introduced to the McCann Center during the 1981-82 season. On December 4, 1981 the Marist men's basketball team entered Division I play in style with an 88-80 overtime win over Westchester College. The next night Marist topped Fairleigh Dickinson 83-71 to win the Greater Poughkeepsie Auto Dealer's Classic.
The women's basketball program likewise entered Division I play during the 1981-82 season at the McCann Center. The women's first Division I game in the McCann Center took place on November 18, 1981 against SUNY Purchase. The Red Foxes dominated the game and won by a score of 81-24.
The first season of Marist volleyball within the McCann Field House took place in 1984. The program began things with a triangular match versus Iona and St. Thomas Aquinas on Sept. 22, 1984. Marist would meet this challenge by defeating Iona 2-1 and St. Thomas Aquinas 2-0.
A maple floor was originally donated by Marist standout and former NBA All-Star Rik Smits '88 to his alma mater. An unforeseen mishap occurred to the floor when a softball errantly struck a sprinkler-head located above the court, thus warping and ruining the surface. This freak accident saw Smits step up to the plate and re-donate a second floor only two years later, which was used until the 2011 renovations took place.
A significant number of transformations have taken place over the years. In 1998, 18 Musco 1,500-watt metal halide light fixtures were installed to supplement the existing lighting scheme. Another capital improvement also occurred in 1998 when two new Daktronics scoreboards, a player statistics display board, electronic message center and three-sided shot clocks were installed. During the 2005-06 season, the installation of a new public address and sound system was completed. A new set of bleachers for the student section were added to the south end, which were replaced in the 2011 renovations.
McCann Arena also serves as a pivotal facility for College and special events. Hosting functions ranging from commencement activities to large-scale theatrical and concert productions is a frequent role for this venue. Concerts featuring artists such as Michelle Branch, Rusted Root, Third Eye Blind, Everclear, The All-American Rejects, Gym Class Heroes, New Found Glory/Good Charlotte, Guster, Train, and the B-52s have all played the McCann Arena. The McCann Arena has also featured speakers like Maya Angelou, Elie Wiesel, America's Most Wanted John Walsh, and Rwanda hero Paul Rusesabagina.