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Random College Basketball Thoughts

Posted by Sean Rowland on March 17, 2019

I’ve been watching a lot of college basketball the last few weeks as we are in my favorite time of year. But to quote Frank Costanza: “I’ve got a lot of problems with you people! And now you’re going to hear about them!”

…For my sanity, please go to a challenge system! I am about to lose my mind if I see one more image of referees crowding around a monitor. It is so absurd that they can’t make a decision in the final two minutes and need to check who the ball went out of bounds on or that the clock should be 35.2 seconds instead of 34.3. I get it, some (stressing some) of the outcomes are vital to who wins the game and need to be right. But this replay thing is sapping the fun and flow out of the game. Just like other sports, have the coaches challenge a call. Give them two per game and call it a day.

…Speaking of the refs, why can coaches berate them, yet players say something remotely questioning under their breath and they get T’d up? Happened in the Buffalo-Bowling Green game.

…I’ll continue my ref rant for a little while more: Stop telling players to sit down on the bench. The coach is standing (and sometimes has a foot on the court), but players can’t stay on their feet for a bit to clap and cheer?

….You get a technical foul for softly trash talking now? C’mon. I was at the Hartford-Albany game and two guys jawing at each other (not yelling) both got a T. What a joke.

…After a buzzer beater, watch those idiot referees closely. They are so obsessed with their stupid replays, that they blow their whistle incessantly, wave their hands and try to stop the crazed bench/starters floor celebration (the most fun part for teams and fans), so they can “take a look at it”. Even when it’s obvious to somebody not trained that the basket is good and the buzzer sounded.

…TV Producers: We don’t care about the coaches handshake. I know you have a giant boner for the can-do-no-wrong, almighty head coach, but after a game winner or a championship, I want to see players celebrating with each other, not the handshake line.

…Stop saying Bid Thief! They did not steal a bid, they earned a bid. If you want to go to the NCAA Tournament, win your conference. It’s that simple. Stop demeaning these teams that earn it by harping on how they “took one” from a bubble team.

…I understand announcers have to take their cue from directors and producers, but ESPN’s directives make the game hard to watch. I went to mute during Belmont-Murray State as Doug Sherman (who I normally love) and Malcolm Huckaby told us at least 30 times….how there were x number of NBA scouts in the building (including Magic Johnson!!!), how Ja Morant is a top 5 lottery pick (and the greatest of all time), how Joe Lunardi says that Belmont is in even with a loss!

…The cursive writing of team name on a uniform is cute and it looks good on Seton Hall. But wayyy too many teams are using it that shouldn’t after it became cool again when the Pirates brought it back.

…I’m not a complete grouch as there are some good things: Andrew Catalon and Steve Lappas are a joy as they have become my favorite announce team. Such great chemistry and they offer solid analysis and insight. Nothing is fake or forced with them. Lapp is really good at breaking things down and being honest while Catalon calls a terrific game and is excellent with his voice during big moments. Wish these guys got to be one of the four pairings calling the Regionals.

…I love a conference tournament that has a standard bracket (no double bye) and a consistent, geographically-sensical host. That makes the MAC and Missouri Valley two personal favorites. I especially get all warm and fuzzy when watching Arch Madness and hearing a Casey’s General Store promo from John Rooney.

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Hockey in Springfield and becoming a Hartford Hawks fan

Posted by Sean Rowland on March 3, 2019

Ahhh, March in the Northeast…always a fickle time. This trip started by waiting for traffic enhanced by snow to ease up before making the drive to Springfield, MA. My plan was to spend most of the day at the Springfield Museums, but the delay meant it wasn’t worth spending the $25 for the 5 museums when I would only have time for one. So I went to the Armory, a former facility nationally run and historic in longevity. It’s interesting if you’re into that stuff, which I am not as I can’t find appeal in guns and weaponry given their purpose. From there, I walked to the MassMutual Center for outdoor pictures. I found the city to be quite grumpy as many were not all that welcoming (outside of anyone attracting customers). After a frustrating encounter with team staff, I walked around nearby Court Square, which features some pretty cool architecture. There was a bit of time to kill and the very recent opening of the MGM Casino a few blocks down was perfect for that. They actually fulfilled my historical needs as an interactive display gave a great overview of the city.

Puck drop was 7:05 PM and Hartford took on fellow cellar-dwellers Springfield. It may be a historic AHL city, but looking past their 7 Calder Cups, you see just three playoff appearances in the last 18 years. However, the impact the Thunderbirds have had is big as their replacing of the Falcons a few years back led to a complete overall of how hockey would be done and fans responded. On this night, the building was 60-65% full and the home side thrilled with a 5-1 thrashing. Renovations have done this 1970s-arena well as side rooms for a bar and a grill helped to add space to an otherwise crowded concourse. Inside, is an oval seating bowl that is subtly great for hockey. Excellent sightlines from seats that are angled very nicely throughout the building.

The next morning featured a steady light snow as I stayed in to catch up on work remotely. Roads were fine as I made the 20-minute drive back to Springfield. Those looking to spend time in the city, there are the aforementioned attractions, while the biggest one is the Basketball Hall of Fame, which is close to downtown. It is pretty awesome and I’ve been there a few times. The reason I went back this afternoon was for some college hockey as American International College (AIC) started playing here recently instead of the municipal rink in West Springfield (the Olympia Ice Center). That one may have been dinky, this one is much too large. AIC is second-lowest in NCAA attendance and around 500 people came out for the last home game of the year. The folks on hand did a respectable job cheering their boys on and there was a little pep in the building, which I did not expect. The Yellow Jackets responded with a 4-1 win that clinched the Atlantic Hockey Regular-Season crown for the first time in their long-suffering history. While being off-campus is a disadvantage, the MassMutual Center has way better amenities, hence the move and why their opponent Sacred Heart did the same thing a few years ago by taking up shop in Bridgeport’s arena.

Immediately after the final whistle, I got on I-91, an Interstate that I became quite familiar with the last few days. It’s only 30 minutes to Hartford and the suburbs is where the University is located. The Hawks play out of Chase Family Arena, a disjointed gym with lots of exposed interior material. Seating is not comfortable either as the shallow-rising side sections feature poorly-constructed chairs. They are loosely connected, so whenever someone leans back, you feel it and after awhile, it’s like you are on a ride. Thankfully, the game more than made up for the arena and so did the fans. It was Senior Day and the Hawks found themselves behind, down 16 at the half. They came out firing in the 2nd, starting on a 10-0 run. It was a fascinating contest as Hartford couldn’t quite over the hump, yet they managed to tie the game in the final two minutes. They had a chance to win and a desperation tap out led to a long heave at the buzzer that agonizingly hit the back rim, bounced high up and hit the rim again before falling out. The crowd did a double gasp in case it dropped (as did I, apologies for the orgasmic noises). Despite poor local support, the fans that were there, were great through the game. I really was impressed by their enthusiasm and volume. Did not expect that from a team averaging a crowd less than 1,000 and it was a pleasant surprise. In OT, Hartford took control and they got the big win 82-80. I thought the players were so well-poised and controlled during their comeback, especially senior leaders J.R. Lynch and George Blagojevic. I also liked their 9-year coach: John Gallagher. He got on the mic after the game imploring fans for their support on Tuesday as they have a chance at the 2 seed in the conference tournament. He also was genuine and embraced each graduating player and their families during Senior Day festivities with true care. The Hawks have never been to the NCAA Tournament and after this game, I think I found the team I want to win the America East Playoffs.

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That’s Not Canada…

Posted by Sean Rowland on February 27, 2019

Trip planning in March is always a challenge and I was shocked that we somehow squeezed in a visit to Lake Placid in between four blockbuster storms last year. This go-around, I made plans for a few more OHL games with trips to Kitchener and Saginaw, while picking up my brother along the way. From Jersey, that would be four separate days on the road and each of them faced the risk and likelihood of snow. Breaking down each event, I specifically didn’t want to chance dealing with lake effect snow in Michigan/Ontario that could easily accumulate given very cold temps forthcoming, plus I likely needed to be into work Monday for a storm as we’re entering an extra busy work stretch. So the brakes were halted on that trip and a long night of researching resulted as I still wanted to go somewhere…

Springfield and Hartford ended up being the final result as a nice set-up of schedules will allow for a couple of new stadiums to be seen. First, I’ll wait out the local morning snow before making the three-hour trip to the Pioneer Valley. I’ve been to the Basketball Hall of Fame a few times, but never visited anywhere else in Springfield, so I’m hoping to have the afternoon to explore a little within the Metro Center (downtown) section of the city. At night, we’ll check out our 11th AHL venue at the MassMutual Center with a game between the Thunderbirds and nearby Hartford Wolfpack. Then, to fulfill my odd beginning desire to see college hockey games, American International College (AIC) fills that need as they have a 1 PM game in the same building. Amazingly, that’s the third Atlantic Hockey game I’ll see this year. Over the state border, but short in distance is Hartford and their University plays out of Chase Arena in the America East Conference. It’s a 5 PM game for them against Albany, which works perfectly for this schedule. I’m still debating the plan after the game, whether I want to drive 3 hours home in a bit of wintry weather or just stay another night in the nearby hotel and have a nice meal post-game. Hedging towards the latter. I did even consider another game on Sunday as UConn plays an hour away in Storrs at Noon. In the end, I decided against it because I don’t want to get caught in another approaching winter storm that might begin as I start heading home. Plus, UConn is building an on-campus hockey arena in a few years and I’ll check out both those venues at the same time.

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A Saturday at BC and Bentley

Posted by Sean Rowland on February 6, 2019

After three minor snow events in four days, it was nice to get a break here in the Northeast and the weather relaxed enough for me to take a jolt up to Boston for a sports doubleheader. The four-hour drive went super fast thanks to another entertaining pod from “Something to Wrestle With” as I thoroughly enjoyed the Jake The Snake episode. There were about six things that I tried to remember to search YouTube for later that night in the hotel. Before I knew it, I reached Chestnut Hill after about 10 minutes of navigating the twisty roads that randomly branch off in the area. This was my second visit to this beautiful campus and since I did all the touring during the football trip a few months ago, I went right to the arena for the game. Conte Forum has been home to both Boston College basketball and hockey since 1988. The multi-purpose venue displays school character quite well with maroon and gold all around and a mighty impressive trophy case highlighted by a bronze eagle. For basketball, the seating bowl isn’t as great as others in the conference since corners have poorer sightlines given that the building needs to support hockey. Also, the top-half of the seating is uncomfortable bucket bleachers. At least the views are good with an adequate pitch between each row. BC came in to this contest against Notre Dame at 1-4 in the conference, yet they put up a good fight and this was an entertaining affair. The Irish pulled through in the end 79-73 and watching them in person, I remember that I’ve always enjoyed the style and way that Mike Brey’s teams play. My BC takeaway is that Kyle Bowman is a selfish player constantly looking for his shot and I’m guessing he takes half-a-dozen bad ones per game. There was a good crowd that turned up for this one and we were treated to a student rendition of Mr Brightside, an enjoyable BC tradition.

Getting out of the Commonwealth Garage on campus was a nightmare and it took me 30 minutes just to get out of BC. I’m glad that I didn’t go with the original plan and see UNH hockey in the evening as time-wise, it would’ve been way too close for comfort. Instead, I traveled over to nearby Waltham, for an off-List game at Bentley University. Before that, I walked down Moody Street in this city nicknamed for their Watch production history. Originally, I planned to eat in the Deli at Moody’s, but the place turns into a reservation-only dinner at night, so I settled on Bison County, which was a good alternative. The school just opened Bentley Arena last year as decades of playing at a municipal rink a town over finally ended. It is a terrific facility that has wonderful, energy-saving technological advances. The color-scheme is quite sharp and everything about the building is sleek. They only built it for 2,000 seats, so the bowl features just 6-7 rows around the rink. It is steep, but with so few rows, only the top couple have an obstructed view without glass partitions / seating angle inevitably getting in the way. Attendance is certainly better at the new place, however the student turnout was disappointing as the “Top Shelf” section sat mostly empty with less than 100 on hand, half of them just playing on their phones. The atmosphere was odd because when the crowd popped for a goal, the celebration from the fans lasted 10 seconds. As for the game, it was dull and clutzy with players seemingly falling over themselves. Bentley won their ninth in a row over Air Force 4-0. Fun Fact: This was the first matchup where each team had the same nickname (Falcons).

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Back to BC (and Bentley too)

Posted by Sean Rowland on January 30, 2019

We’re on a rare nice string of monthly stadium visits and it continues this weekend with a basketball-hockey doubleheader. Fresh off a fall trip to Chestnut Hill, I am heading back to complete the facility reviews at Boston College by seeing a game at Conte Forum. The arena is attached to the football stadium and I’ve already had a look inside, so there won’t be much surprise when going through the gates. The biggest question was whether I wanted to see basketball or hockey. I’m starting to get the itch to see all college hockey venues, but in the end, the schedule fit basketball best. The Eagles take on Notre Dame at 2 PM and that’s the game we’ll see as this is a quick trip with very limited time outside the sporting events. I would figure to be leaving Conte Forum between 4:00 and 4:30 PM, which is just enough time for an evening game somewhere in the area. My original pick was to go see a New Hampshire hockey game in Durham, but I didn’t want to sweat being delayed as I like to get to an arena well before game-time to do a full tour. Unfortunately, that’s the only facility on The List available. I went back and forth for awhile and in the end I want some time at the arena and also want to combine it with a trip to UNH’s football stadium, so I’m gonna save it. At the same time, I’ve really enjoyed my recent college hockey games and I remembered that nearby Bentley University just built a new arena that opened last year. They are also in a Boston Suburb (Waltham) and even though the arena is very small (< 2,000 capacity), I’m going to still go check out. That game is against Air Force at 7 PM and I’ll stay overnight in Watch City before heading back Sunday Morning.

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Howlin’ with the Coyotes in Glendale

Posted by Sean Rowland on January 10, 2019

Our work conference in Phoenix allowed for free time during the day and while the weather wasn’t as warm as we hoped, it was still decent enough for golf on Saturday at Coldwater Golf Club, about 20 minutes west of downtown. Sunday was new stadium day as a matinee provided the chance to see the Coyotes in Gila River Arena. The team’s supposed struggles in being “financially viable” have been well documented elsewhere, so I won’t rehash that and we’ll stick with an arena review, which began great. We took an Uber out to Glendale early so that we could hang out in the terrific Westgate Entertainment District right across from the arena. This mixed-use section contained an excellent assortment of bars and restaurants that were perfect for a pre-game hangout (Yard House was our choice and look at all the beers on tap). The area looks nice too with dancing fountains to introduce visitors.

Inside the arena, the concourse is adequate enough though it could use a little more space and certainly some more decoration with Coyote displays. What it does have going for it is special amenities including a Mother’s Nursing Room and the arena is certified as sensory inclusive. The rink itself is on the smaller side, which can typically create more intimacy and that happens here with more than half of the seats coming in the lower bowl. However, it is worth noting that those seats were surprisingly on the narrow side and they didn’t have enough of a pitch as they should have as I had a few heads in my way that obstructed the view. See the video for game play to see what I mean. The rows in the upper-deck are quite steep, the problem there is the double-decker (and tall) set-up of luxury suites forces the 200 level to be quite high. 

The game was a ridiculous blowout as Arizona thoroughly dominated the Rangers. After two periods, it was 5-0 and the Coyotes had more than double the Shots on Goal. This was much to the chagrin of the many Rangers fans in attendance that probably made up about half of the less than 10,000 or so on hand. I feel bad for Coyote fans that constantly have to put up with road teams bringing in large numbers of people in visiting gear. Those that were for Arizona created an ok atmosphere (though that’s hard given the relatively low attendance). They stood for all goals and at times tried to out yell the “Let’s Go Rangers” chants with “Let’s Go Cay-Yotes”. Expect to hear a lot of howl’s over the sound system as that injects some character. Overall, this was an enjoyable arena visit and one that I recommend given the fun hang out spots in the District before or after the game. I’ll have a detailed review up by the end of the weekend.

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No Better Time to Visit Phoenix than January!

Posted by Sean Rowland on January 2, 2019

On Friday, I’ll be heading to the American Meteorological Society’s Annual Meeting, specifically, the Student Conference on January 5-6, where our company will be exhibiting. This year, AMS is hosting the event in Phoenix, a welcomed destination for the many stuck in the winter blues. The portion that we are attending takes place each evening, so that limits any potential sports activities to the early afternoon’s. The Valley has several winter options that I went through: Arizona State basketball, but they weren’t home. Grand Canyon (WAC) basketball who is at home, but at an un-makeable Saturday 8 PM start. The Phoenix Suns, was potentially doable as they played Friday Night, however our flight arrives just a half-hour after tip. We considered an earlier flight, but didn’t want to leave our in-office crew in a bad spot in case we were dealing with wintry weather. Sidenote, there is quite the battle going on in Phoenix about renovations to Talking Stick Resort Arena that owners want.

That brings us to the last option, who also have their own arena debates: the Arizona Coyotes. A matinee was the only hope and as luck would have it, one of their four afternoon games all year falls on Sunday, January 6th! They play the Rangers at 2 PM and we are heading to Gila River Arena in Glendale for it. While the league may bemoan their arena situation, the building looks great and it’s in a fun spot thanks to the Westgate Entertainment District right across the street. That gives us a great sports day before the conference as we’ll find a sports bar in there to watch part of the early NFL Wild-Card game before heading to the arena. This will be my ninth NHL arena and first in the Western Conference as I look forward to seeing one of the better buildings in the West.

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Spending Time with the Corner Crew and the Wolf Pack

Posted by Sean Rowland on December 10, 2018

It’s been a very cold and snowy start to the winter here in the East, so I felt fortunate to squeeze this trip in as it is rare to get a schedule to cooperate for two games in the Lake Effect Snowbelt. My drive up to Rochester was uneventful and timing couldn’t have been more perfect as I arrived at RIT’s Gene Polisseni Center right as the gates opened at 5:30 PM. That gave me plenty of time to take a tour at this beautiful facility built in 2014. The entrance is my favorite part of the arena as you enter into an atrium at ice-level that is accented by orange walls and a holographic-like Hall of Fame display. Given that this is the Rochester Institute of Technology, it was cool that they showed their stuff by having a pretty neat Virtual Reality experience. Upstairs, the area above the seating allows more room to walk around, view displays, get food or use the standing rail to watch the game. It’s probably one of the best concourse set-ups I’ve seen for a small hockey arena. The bowl itself rounds the rink in standard fashion and it is adequate, though the seats are a little tight. 

The most enjoyable part of the arena experience is the Corner Crew, RIT’s student section. While the rest of the crowd was surprisingly sparse and quiet, these guys and gals in Section 118 made their presence known. They were full of chants and choreographed cheers with my favorites being their rendition of “Happy And You Know It”. Their arm-bopping to “Jump Around” was great too. I got to see their post-goal traditions three times and it involves a siren, bell and “We want _#, It’s all your fault”. I’ll have some videos up on YouTube after the official review. The section doesn’t quite reach the level I saw at Michigan last year, but RIT has a noteworthy solid group nonetheless. The action on the ice was great as Sacred Heart went back and forth with the Tigers. RIT’s goals were quite entertaining, while the Pioneers were quite fortunate. They had a fluky goal in the 2nd period that came from a hot rebound off the backboards. After RIT lost the lead in the 3rd, the game went to OT and with less than 10 seconds to play, Sacred Heart was the benefactor of a bouncing puck that hopped into the air, bounced around, and eventually landed on the goalie’s back, where it barely fell over the goal line. Rough loss for RIT, though Sacred Heart did carry most of the play in the final 25 minutes.

The next day, I briefly stopped back at RIT to get some outdoor arena pictures (never fun with bare hands when it’s 25 degrees) and then made the drive to Olean. Similar to my last trip in 2002, I ran into light snow as I got into the Allegheny Mountains. This thankfully didn’t stick to the roads, but it made for a classic Winter background as I reached Saint Bonaventure. The setting may be pretty, but this is a campus that looks like it is stuck in the 1970s and the generally dull brick buildings don’t help with appearances, though a few statues add unique elements. The Reilly Center has a similar vibe with occasional wood-paneling and white-tile ceiling. It is an especially funky building with its numerous hallways and corridors that lead to many non-basketball things. It’s not everyday that you see a post office, a bookstore, a cafeteria and a replica of the Declaration of Independence all in the same building that houses a sports arena. Inside, it’s a simple facility with sideline seating that is broken up twice by a walkway. On the ends, there are small bleachers that contain students and the pep band before quickly reaching a wall. I was particularly interested by the seats that seemed original based on the wooden armrests and the unique cushions, that were quite comfortable.

Saint Bonaventure has always been regarded as a tough place to play and the Reilly Center was absolutely rocking for this one. Buffalo was in town and they came in undefeated and ranked in the Top 25 for the first time in their history. The Bulls showed why as they ran over the Bonnies, dominating from start to finish in an 80-62 win. Yet, it was the fans I noticed the most as they are so loud and into it. The place went bonkers when the Bonnies cut the lead to 15 (that’s 15!) as people got on their feet trying rally them on. The students were crazy loud, but they were also out of line and exceptionally vulgar. Just before the teams came out, they chanted “F*#& UB”. Thankfully, they didn’t do that during the game, but c’mon it’s a Saturday Afternoon and there were plenty of kids on hand. The rest of the way, the group chants were acceptable (I’m ok with “You Are Ug-ly”), but there were a few individual shouts that crossed the line. I loved the passion and volume of the Reilly Center, but occasionally cringed at the student section, especially from a school that preaches Franciscan Values.

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Visiting Old Stomping Grounds

Posted by Sean Rowland on December 5, 2018

I’m heading back home on Friday, but just for 18 hours as I make a stop at the lone program in Rochester, NY at the Division I status. The Rochester Institute of Technology made the move in 2005, just after I graduated from Oswego and saw the Tigers make a visit to the old Romney Field House. Despite my jealousy in wanting the Lakers to also go from DIII to DI, I’m happy to see RIT at this level and they’ve done quite well, having made quite a bit of noise in their few NCAA Tournament appearances. In 2014, the team left the cozy confines of Ritter Arena to the beautiful, 4,000-seat Gene Polisseni Center. RIT plays in front of their students known as the “Corner Crew” and they’ve earned a solid reputation. The Tigers take on Sacred Heart at 7:05 PM and I’m especially looking forward to this one as my Dad and two brothers will be joining me. I’ll then drive 15 minutes up to my parents house in the suburb of Greece to spend the night.

The second day is another re-visit, as my goal of going back to places where I didn’t have a digital camera nears completion. The two hour drive will go to Olean, NY (ie. the middle of nowhere) as that is home to Saint Bonaventure University. It was all the way back in 2002 when I first went to the Reilly Center, when I had to get my film developed after taking pictures. I remember this visit so well as it was just my 6th overall and the first that really explored a new place that I wasn’t familiar with. It was holiday break from school and I went with a friend, remembering that we caught the beginnings of a storm as snow just began to cover some of the roads. It’s amazing the things you remember as I could still see us pulling in to campus and attendants directing us where to park. The fine details of those first 10 or so stadium visits will always be etched in my memory as I waited years to finally begin this venture. At that time, I was obsessed with college basketball and followed the Bonnies’ J.R. Bremer closely. The game featured former Saint Bonaventure coach Jim Baron returning with his Rhode Island Rams and Bremer dropping 29 in the first half. Not much has changed with this gym and this year, the Bonnies are struggling and it will be an uphill battle as they take on Buffalo. It’s a 4 PM game and I’ll head back to Jersey right after it wraps up. 

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2018-2019 Basketball Arena Updates

Posted by Sean Rowland on November 27, 2018

Villanova’s signifcant renovation coincides with a name change to the Finneran Pavilion

The most noteworthy arena opening is in the NBA, where the Milwaukee Bucks moved a few hundred feet to the Fiserv Forum. Designers did a terrific job making the building unique as the arena really stands out from all the others in the Association. The folks at Arena Digest have a great recap of the new home for the Bucks (and Marquette). There were plenty of other expensive renovations across the league, most notably in Atlanta. An arena not even 20 years old received nearly $200 million in renovations to make it more “social”. Minnesota and Cleveland are undergoing multi-year renovations as well. For those that share their facility with an NHL team, we covered the other arena upgrades in the hockey post last month.

In the G-League, it’s more of the same…move the affiliate closer to the parent and remove any unique likeness from said team. This year, it’s the Sacramento Kings that do the honors as they decided to leave Reno after ten seasons. They save a whopping 1 hour and 15 minutes in drive-time by putting the franchise in Stockton, where they of course are going to be known as the “Kings”. Stockton Arena will now have AHL Hockey and G-League basketball this season, while up in Reno, the departure of the Bighorns means that the Reno Events Center is off The List. The Big Sky’s basketball tournament ended their three year run in the city and moved to Boise. On the flip side, other G-League news includes three new arenas, which is exciting. With a surprisingly generic name, DC opened the Entertainment and Sports Arena this fall. It is home to a team with a name that is anything but generic: the Capital City Go-Go. I think this 4,111-seat facility fits a niche market in a big city and it should be successful for not just the Go-Go, but also the WNBA’s Washington Mystics. While most in the arena world knew about the debut of the DC building, another arena to open was much quieter on the headline front. Close to the Mexican border in the Rio Grande Valley is Edinburg, Texas and despite a 15-year-old arena just 30 minutes away in Hidalgo, we see the opening of glistening Bert Ogden Arena. The Vipers move in to it from Hidalgo as owner and developer Alonso Cantu leads the way in Edinburg. Keep in mind this is also a city that just finished a pretty nice soccer specific stadium in the USL. The other arena change in the G-League is more of a practice facility. The renamed Delaware Blue Coats will use the 76ers new complex in Wilmington which includes a 2,500-seat arena.

Renovations remain the theme as we turn to college basketball. There are five teams that had such a transformation with their arena, that it could essentially be called a new building. Cincinnati, Houston, Northwestern, Portland State and Villanova all have finished an overhaul and as a result, we get to see some pretty nice basketball arenas. These changes were warranted, except maybe in Cincy where Fifth Third Arena was already in OK shape. The other four will enjoy massive changes and a more comfortable, fan-friendly arena. We also can’t forget that there is one new arena opening out of the 353 Division I Schools. Elon is the location as the Phoenix welcomed North Carolina for their opening debut of the Schar Center. I’ve gotta say that they have a snazzy fly-trough preview video and the arena looks awesome. But forward to 1:33 in…what in the world is a “Vomitorium for Team Areas”?!? Sounds disgusting. Also noteworthy are the two schools who have moved up to Division I from D2. North Alabama joins the Atlantic Sun Conference and they play out of long-time home Flowers Hall. The other team has an arena that just opened last year as Cal Baptist adds a sparking facility to the WAC.

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