Weekend in Worcester

When you think of a weekend getaway, Worcester, MA is not exactly what comes to mind, but there’s sports and stadiums there and that’s all I need. We made the four hour drive up to Central Massachusetts on Saturday Afternoon and arrived on Holy Cross’s campus just south of the city in perfect time, an hour before tip-off. Being that it was dark, we headed right to the arena. There’s a lot of history with this school and it was cool to see the full sized statue of Bob Cousy out front and the display cases in the hallway concourses filled with memorabilia, including the 1947 NCAA Championship. The Hart Center is the third Patriot League building that I’ve seen and though it is not the newest, it did have some character. It has an odd seating design with three small levels, each one featuring different seating types. What was pleasantly surprising to see (and hear) was the solid atmosphere as they drew a good crowd for the home opener and the building was loud. Great to see both ends filled with students and “Sader Nation” seemed to be in midseason form. It’s not as nice as Bucknell’s new building, but the Hart Center is a pretty decent low-major basketball arena. For full details, check out the review here: #96 Hart Center.

I am so excited to have College Basketball back and it was great to see some live action. This truly has the most Beautiful Season in all of sport. Holy Cross took on the College of Charleston, whom I just watched lose by a point to Maryland a couple nights before. I was looking forward to seeing the Cougars play and man they did not disappoint. Remarkably efficient on offense, they were very impressive, not only their star Andrew Goudelock, but Willis Hall looked polished and Jeremy Simmons couldn’t miss. Plus, I was sitting real close and Bobby Cremins seems like a real nice guy, which was cool. This looks like an NCAA-caliber team and should be a real fun race this year with Wofford and Appy State in the SoCon. CofC won the game 93-84 as they shot 63% for the game. Holy Cross played hard, a couple times they tried to come back and they were in this game until about the 8min mark of the 1st half. Awful free-throw shooting really hurt them. I’m interested to see how they do this year with their third coach in three years. Amazing how such a solid program has fallen with the departure of Ralph Willard.

After the game, we made the quick drive downtown to our conveniently located Hampton Inn, where we were a short walk to the next destination; the DCU Center. We grabbed a late dinner at the nearby Uno Chicago Grill. I went for a walk in the morning and the downtown area, I wouldn’t exactly call exciting or lively, but it’s not drab either. The sections I went through seemed fine as I walked by the arena and into Worcester Commons, where an ice skating rink was getting ready to be constructed in front of City Hall. I also ran into one of the strangest statues ever. There really is nothing to do (touristy-wise) in the second-largest city in Massachusetts as the only attractions were the art museum and an armory museum, both of which did not interest us, so we saw a movie. On the way back, we went for a brief walk around Holy Cross’ beautiful campus and took in the great views on The Hill. It also gave me a chance to take some daylight exterior photos at the Hart Center.

It was then off to a Sunday matinĂ©e AHL game between Worcester and Norfolk at the DCU Center. Walking to the building, I was fooled. The night before while at UNO’s, I thought I was staring at the arena, when it was actually the gleaming convention center. Instead, on my walk I found the DCU Center housing hockey to the left and that was a building more resembling 80s architecture. The atmosphere inside was dead and the NFL likely had a lot to do with it. 2,400 fans felt more like 1,000 and sounded more like 500 and it seemed to drag the game down as well, which the home guys won 3-1. Jonathan Cheechoo was still trying to resurrect his career and the Sharks got two goals from Defensemen Mike Moore on the win.

The building just didn’t do it for me. A large part of that is the irritating curtain that they use to cut off the second level seats. So instead of a 14,800 seat arena, I’m only seeing about 7,500 of them. It always sends bad vibes to me, saying we can never fill this place, so we’ll try to make it look full. This curtain was odd because it allowed for about 3 rows of the upper deck to be open for fans. I’m not a big fan overall to 1970s/80s style arenas, but I’m also not biased as I did like the Richmond Coliseum’s interior. The DCU Center also brought back some bad memories for me…as much as I loved that 2005 Vermont basketball team, they did stick a dagger in my stomach and I had a feeling it would happen as soon as that name was paired with Syracuse. Anyway, the arena did have one good thing going for it: accessibility and parking as it was extremely easy for a downtown arena to get to, park at and exit from. For the full review, check it out here: #97 DCU Center.

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