Looking through all of the 351 schools that play Division I basketball, I was surprised that this season did not feature any brand new arenas. However, four teams at least find themselves setting up shop in a different facility. Out on Long Island, after playing in the horrible Stony Brook Arena since 1990, the Seawolves were promised a renovated facility in 2007 and the team subsequently moved to tiny Pritchard Gymnasium on what was initially thought to be temporary. As state renovation funds were frozen, the upgrades never got going and Stony Brook remained in their high-school like gym for several years. Finally, a few years ago construction began and the “new” Stony Brook Arena is back hosting basketball. I’m looking forward to returning at some point as the previous version was atrocious with a ridiculous amount of deficiencies for a relatively young building. Of course, a bank had to attach their name to the new place and it will sadly be called the Island Federal Credit Union Arena. Ugh.
Staying in the America East, Maine is moving off-campus as they will now play their games 15 minutes to the south in Bangor, where the 5,800 seat Cross Insurance Center just opened. Also moving to a downtown multi-use facility is North Dakota State, but that move is not permanent. For the next two seasons, the Bison will be in Scheels Arena while they have their new arena built, to be called Scheels Center. Sheesh. While TCU’s arena gets renovated, they will be playing games this season in the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center, which is home to the Fort Worth School District. It will be kind of strange to see a Power 5 team play in an arena that does not even seat 5,000. Lastly, as Comcast continues its ridiculous brand change, Maryland’s arena is now called the Xfinity Center.
In the NBDL, two franchises are out and three come in. The new team is Westchester (NY) and though the Westchester County Center is below my required capacity (I think…as its hard to find exact numbers), this seems like an ideal place for the Knicks’ affiliate. Meanwhile, Springfield moved to Grand Rapids and that introduces a new line on The List as the DeltaPlex Arena is the home for the Drive. While the capacity is stated at 5,000, the seating chart does not seem to reflect that. I’m curious if the graphical representation is misleading or if in fact they are closing or curtaining off sections. The Tulsa franchise moves to Oklahoma City into the Cox Convention Center (where the AHL’s Barons play), but it is what happened in NE Oklahoma that is more interesting. I’ve written before how the Tulsa area incredibly has several arenas with a capacity of at least 3,500. Well inevitably one has failed. The 66ers had to relocate as the SpiritBank Center in Bixby essentially closed. Saddled with financial trouble, the arena is no longer having any major events. In fact, the website now just goes to a catering company operating at the facility. Keep in mind, this place was completed in 2008 for $50 million, quite a bit money for what is now essentially a business complex.