Over the last month, I went through all of the basketball leagues to update any arena changes on The List. Not much news from the professional leagues, but at the collegiate level, there were some changes including three new facilities, with another one opening late in the season.
We start in Evansville, where the Aces will now be playing in the downtown Ford Center, which replaces venerable Roberts Stadium, a place that I am sad to see gone from The List. Roberts is in limbo, but not currently hosting any sporting events and I’ll bet it will meet the wrecking ball soon. Out in the MAC, Bowling Green opens the Stroh Center. That will replace Anderson Arena, which just goes down to hosting gymnastics. Lastly, there may be another arena opening down in Texas as UT-Arlington is planning on opening the College Park Center on February 1st. Very interesting in that the five home games that UTA plays in the new arena are going to be absolutely free. Kudos to the nice gesture, though I’m skeptical and guessing fans are going to be heading to a facility that isn’t yet complete. I could be wrong, but why not just wait till 2012-2013 and start fresh with a new arena for the whole year.
Lots going on over in the Blue Ridge Mountains and the beautiful city of Asheville. First, the school (UNC-Asheville) opened their new building, Kimmel Arena, with #1 North Carolina visiting a few weeks ago. The arena only seats 3,200 so it didn’t make The List, however it looks like a great facility and a huge step up from the Justice Center. Elsewhere in Asheville, the city is back hosting the Southern Conference Tournament in March. The Asheville Civic Center (soon to be re-named to US Cellular Center) will be home and that brings them back to The List.
Lastly, a couple of renovations for some major conference teams. UCLA is temporarily playing in the LA Sports Arena while Pauley Pavilion undergoes major renovations. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech is leaving campus for the 2011-2012 season as they get ready for a kind of new arena next season. Alexander Memorial Coliseum is getting completely gutted and overhauled, re-opening as the Hank McCamish Pavilion next year. This transition was pretty quiet as I never really heard much news about it. Seems like the building is the same, but everything inside the old Thrillerdome will be completely re-done.