At the time it was built, it was one of the largest on-campus facilities in the country, earning it the nickname "The Prairie." The Rose Hill Gymnasium has been the site of many legendary college and high school basketball games, including the final high school game of Lew Alcindor, later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. During World War II, it was also used as a barracks. New York City Mayor Ed Koch lived in these barracks for a time. Although it has great allure, many Fordham fans feel that a more modern arena will be necessary to recruit better basketball talent. As early as 1970 an effort, headed by Vince Lombardi, was made to build a new arena. This effort ended with Lombardi's death in 1970.