NDN Features

Rock's House | Cartier Field | Back Room | Political | Career | The Pit | Alumni Events | McGraw's Bench | Jake's Field | Jackson's Rink | Olympic | Fantasy Sports | Chat

NDNation.com Staff: Scott Engler - Michael Cash - John Vannie - Mike Coffey - Kayo - Bacchus

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Dear Santa

posted by Mike Coffey
In my house, we grew up with the mantra that anything worth doing was worth doing well. I realize that's a tough philsophy to defend while reading my blog entries, but let's file that under suspension of belief and talk about my usual topic, ND basketball.

Word out of D.C. is the Board of Trustees reached a decision to green-light the long-awaited facilities upgrades for Notre Dame's basketball programs. Obviously I consider this fantastic news, particularly because it does not come under duress but rather from a position that supporting those programs is the right thing to do. That, as I noted a few weeks ago, is the first step towards a strong program.

Nothing is confirmed, of course, until the white smoke issues from the roof of the Joyce Center -- preferably from a bulldozer doing its work -- and the details and timeline are distributed for public consumption. In between now and then, it falls to us, the ND basketball fanbase, to talk about what we'd like to see in those details. Far be it from me to refrain from talking about what I'd like to see, so allow me to present my laundry list in order of dollars spent.

New practice facilities. This is the part of the physical plant in which the players would spend the most time, and it's the aspect most emphasized by other schools which have made upgrades to their facilities. It represents the best "bang for the buck" Notre Dame could realize.

The generic term "practice facilities" can mean a lot of things. What I have in mind specifically is a quality practice court -- enough room for at least two full-length courts with proper flooring, lighting, baskets, etc. -- with high-tech player meeting areas and lounges (one for men, one for women). Upgrade and improvement to the weightlifting and training offices and areas would be included in this effort as well, ensuring that the players have the best machines available on which to work and the training staff has the room and equipment with which to do their jobs.

The locker rooms were updated as part of an effort six years ago. I don't believe they'd require too much revamping, but if the upgrades included a quality lounge area, some space in the current locker rooms could be reclaimed/reallocated.

Better scoreboard. I realize ND basketball has gone many years with the four-corner scoreboards in the Joyce Center, but this is the 21st Century. Many other schools use higher-tech center-mounted scoreboards that can show the crowd a lot more than the time left and current score. Player point totals and foul totals are considered de rigueur these days, and it's nice to have something on which to show past highlights -- God knows this is a fanbase that needs education about its past.

Yes, I just advocated a Jumbotron. I'll wait for the sputtering to stop.

Most schools that upgrade their stuff are installing such contraptions. Some very quality programs like North Carolina and Indiana have had them for a while. Having seen them in action in places like Milwaukee and the Allstate Arena, I don't believe they detract from the experience. The opportunity to show people like Austin Carr and Kelly Tripucka in action to this generation of fans is one that should be taken.

I realize this may seem odd because I oppose such an installation in Notre Dame Stadium. I feel that way because ND football was built on a strong tradition of simplicity, and I believe use of a Jumbotron goes against that tradition. I do not have the same feelings about ND basketball. Besides, if it means no more hamster ball races, damn the lightshow and full speed ahead.

Floor replacement. When ND upgraded the playing surface a few seasons ago, they installed the new floor on top of the existing one, securing it with duct tape. Not good. The floor setup should be checked to make sure it is of the proper quality, and it should be secured in such a way that I don't get the feeling I'm watching a game at my local rec center.

Seat replacement. The observation areas should be all seatbacks (lose the bleachers) of a uniform dark color, preferably ND's hue of Navy blue. I don't care what Digger thinks, neon purple is not a school color. Uniform color gives the arena a cleaner look, dark colors wear better, and they don't look as awful on TV in the unfortunate event they're empty.

Reallocation of seats. I'm probably making a simple concept sound complicated, but what I'm looking to do is get the often-no-show loge seat holders out of an area to which strong program supporters should have access. There has been talk of creating a "luxury box" setup, and this would go a long way towards fulfilling my goal. I don't care if a luxury box that isn't on TV stands empty. I do care if half-court seats remain unfilled with rabid Irish partisans.

Concession improvements. The setup is pretty good as it is, and it's not like there are a ton of lines. But I would like ND to be capable of offering more variety in the concession stands, and also give them better capability for making the food on site.

Press row technology improvements. Seven years of covering the Irish has given me a pretty good idea of what I'd like to see changed in this area. Permanent two-row seating would make the experience more comfortable. More and better stat monitors would make it easier to track the goings-on during the game and for S.I.D. folks to push current info to the writers during the game (e.g. so-and-so just broke the record for consecutive dives into the stands). Wireless Internet access would allow writers to file their stories more quickly.

A basketball "hall of fame" area. As I noted, ND basketball needs to reclaim its history, and the best solution is to put that history front and center where everyone can get a good whiff of it. The NCAA banners are a good thing, but I'm thinking more along the lines of a "ring of fame", both for the men and the women, to remind the fans of the players who helped shape ND basketball tradition. Outright retirement of jersey numbers might not be feasible, but this would be a good alternative.

Creation of a "student seating ring" around the court. Yes, I prioritized this one last, and my recent posts on the Pit should more than explain why. I would rather see the available resources applied to the areas listed above and any remaining resources dedicated to this effort.

I would hope that there would be enough wherewithal for the project to allow everything on the list to be done, but if we're cutting from the bottom, this is the first one to go.
| More


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A student seating ring must be a top priority. The students can be considered a non-factor when 700 of 1000 who show up for a big game are doing nothing but filling the air OVER the court with noise. It is simple physics.
Yes, the community and alumni provided the primary source of support during leaner years. However, if ND Basketball is to be a top-flight program, it needs a top-flight crowd. The current seating arrangement does not even give the student section the chance.

5/10/2006 06:11:00 PM  
Blogger El Kabong said...

Yes, the community and alumni provided the primary source of support during leaner years.

So now that the students might be interested again, they should be cast aside?

Screw that.

5/10/2006 07:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd make one adjustment and 1 addition. I agree that a student seating area is a top priority. To me this is a simple solution. The size of the ND student body (compared to a Michigan or Duke) does not provide the numbers to populate a ring. But their enthusiasm deserves (and demands) priority. So simply place the student section on both sides of center court behind the team benches. This allows the students to be front and center for the cameras. You can still have the press row and the high-priced, fickle alumni on the other side, where the cameras can't see their empty seats. My added requirement, though it may be an expensive one, is to lower the court and thereby steepen the seats. If you've ever sat in the bleacher sections, you'll know that our seating sections are way too flat. Go to the United Center to see how to do this right. Even if you're way back, you feel close to the court (and the noise you make is more effective).

5/10/2006 07:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Long time lurker; first time poster...

I had the opportunity to hear the Chair of the Faculty Board of Athletics tonight at our Universal ND Night dinner. I asked about the buzz about the JACC improvements. It looks like El Kabong will be getting a few of his wishes...

He confirmed that the outcome of the DC Board meeting included the intention to: 1) do away with bleacher seating in the basketball side, 2) alter some of the seating, resulting in about 1,000 fewer seats, 3) improvement of the "all purpose" side, focusing on improving the hockey arena. He stated that the intention was not to create a fixed hockey arena (either on that side of the JACC or as a stand-alone facility), but that there would be improvements to "wall off" the hockey rink a bit to yield a better fan/player experience.

He also mentioned a few things about improvements to the soccer field, softball field, etc.

Off topic, he mentioned that in general, the faculty were on board with the early football enrollees and he sees it happening more and more in the future.

5/10/2006 10:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Meghan said...

When changes get made student seating will be a ring around the court. Brey has already made this one of his top priorities when they redo the JACC. It won't be cut from the budget.

5/11/2006 12:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that a student ring is essential. However, that ring doesn't have to be the only student seating. Even for the crappy games, there are always a couple hundred hard-core student fans. I think court-side seating within view of the cameras should be reserved for about 200 students. Have the rest of the student seating in its current place. The alums and community aren't getting tossed to the curb, but the hard-core students can be front and center, on TV, and loud, at least creating the impression on TV that the crowd is packed and into the game.

5/11/2006 10:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Folks, it isn't the "fickle alumni" who go to the games. It's the South Bend community who mainly attend the home games unlike football where the crowd is obviously out of towners.

5/11/2006 01:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

This is directed to the person (anonymous) that thinks the students should have priority seating around the court. First of all, please come to the realization that Michigan has 25,000 undergraduate students, Duke has 6500 undergraduate students, and ND has 8300. The truth is told that ND students don't care enough about the basketball program to sustain it, and that Duke basketball is equal to ND football. Secondly, allowing the students to sit amongst the general public would only dissipate the public image of a ND student. People unfamiliar with them personally would see through all the glowing compliments that the university tries to bestow upon them and see that they are just a bunch of rich, spoiled, punk kids with filthy mouths and chips on their shoulders. In fact, I sat by a group of them at the Blue Gold game a couple of weeks ago and felt the need to leave early, sickened by the filth that spewed from their mouths. College isn't just about getting smashed and spouting off. Leave them in their own little section, so that we can still take our children and parents to the games and not have to explain to them what a "Dirty Sanchez" is or what that student meant by calling the lady in front of them a "MILF" in front of her kids. These were some of the cleanest comments coming from the students behind us that day.

5/11/2006 02:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Fightin Mad said...

Why not an all-new basketball arena and an all-new hockey arena? Is this an issue of money or is it thought that there is too much history attached to the Joyce Center to knock it down and replace it? I would have thought that an entirely new, state-of-the-art Joyce complex - on par with the Gug - would have been the best way to go.

5/11/2006 02:55:00 PM  
Anonymous MacMan said...

I agree with Fightin Mad that the hockey and basketball arenas should be seperate. And as far as student seating goes, you do it like they have at Duke and thats it, With the Students along the court to create an actual "advantage." Obviously students are going to be saying inappropraite things. Its so annoying to hear the high and mighty alumni talk bout what ND students can and cannot say- I have a feeling that some of the phrases have changed, but the level of vulgarity was the same 30 years ago as it is today. And most of the students at ND are recieving financial aid and taking out loans, it is so ridiculous to call the students rich and spoiled, when the majority are working their ass off and doing amazing things. Anyway, this is great news for ND Basketball and its recruiting efforts!!!

5/14/2006 07:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Notre Dan said...

Never apologize for wanting the jumbotron in the basketball arena El K. In the football stadium it is heresy. The Basketball arena is a totally different story. It is needed there if for no other reason than for football pep rallys. After attending the rally in the stadium before the USC game I was reminded again about how lame these things can be. Rudy introducing some former greats is nice but it doesn't get people FIRED UP and that was probably the best pep rally in years. How about we do the dorm thing, a couple of players get up and talk in between showing videos of season highlights set to rock music, and finish off with the Here Come The Irish video. So much simpler and gets everybody pumped for the game. Plus we put the film students (or whatever the closest associated major is) to work putting together highlights. Could be like their Senior Project.

5/26/2006 08:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Please do not stereotype the student population of Notre Dame as "just a bunch of rich, spoiled, punk kids with filthy mouths and chips on their shoulders." I have no doubt in my mind that the students you sat by at the Blue and Gold game were obnoxious and worthy of such criticism. However, as a student at the university from a low income (under $35,000 net), single-parent household, I can assure you that this group was a minority from the university. A large majority of the students at Notre Dame are intelligent, well-behaved people and are not even remotely worthy of such harsh words. Unfortunately, those students who do behave well do just that...behave well AND therefore, quietly...while the minority with the bad mouths are loud, and therefore heard. Please think twice before generalizing an entire population based on an assumption derived from a group of 5 guys. I'm sorry your experience at the B&G game was ruined by this group of rude people, but do not characterize a population of 8,000 people in the same class as the five you sat by that afternoon.

6/16/2006 01:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that is a great idea. Since Charlie has taken over the football program Notre Dame is now considered every year for a championship. Now we can focus on the basketball aspect of the University and then Notre Dame will really be the Elite school.

6/20/2006 12:31:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home