There will be plenty of room to stretch out at the Liacouras Center these next couple weeks.
And it will have nothing to do with the offense stretching out the opposition’s defense.
The fanbase at men’s basketball games has been minimal, especially against the lesser
of the Atlantic Ten Conference’s teams, since their perennial NCAA Tournament runs.
Consider this: with Saint Bonaventure and La Salle still awaiting their trips to North Broad Street, the seats are only going to get emptier in the Owls’ home arena.
But in day’s past, they had been just as vacant. Against non-conference teams like Long Beach State and Western Michigan, the Owls pulled in just more than 3,300 per game.
Part of that could be blamed on the level of play from the visiting squad. After all, each of those four squads is either under .500 this year or has little NCAA Tournament prestige.
Or part of it might have something to do with Temple likely ending its consecutive postseason tournament run at 24 seasons.
So how can this be remedied?
This may not sound logical – or conventional – but why not have the Owls host a throwback-style game against their lesser A-10 opponents?
You know the drill – today’s team wearing
yesterday’s uniforms while playing in an older, cozier venue.
If you haven’t caught on, I’m proposing that the Owls put on a game at McGonigle Hall. I’m sure you’re familiar with that dusty, aged building on North Broad Street, the one where the Owls haven’t suited up for a regular season contest since Feb. 1997?
Since then, and after the finishing touches had been put on the Apollo (now known as the Liacouras Center), McGonigle Hall has been a shell of an arena. Once the host of countless A-10 tournaments and even a couple rounds of the women’s NCAA Tournament in 1988, McGonigle Hall is empty.
Sure, it’s home to the fencing, volleyball and men’s and women’s gymnastics teams.
And yes, it’s the site of some warmup games for Dunphy’s team and Dawn Staley’s squad each season. (In fact, the women’s team has a game there this season – Friday against NCAA Tournament hopeful Xavier.)
But McGonigle Hall could be so much more. And so could those menial A-10 matchups,
which are scattered throughout the final months of the season.Sounds like a great idea, right?
While hosting games at McGonigle Hall sounds feasible to the ‘Everyfan,’ a representative of Temple’s Athletic Department assures us that it is quite the opposite. Scott Walcoff, Temple’s assistant athletic director for marketing and promotions said the idea had never crossed his mind.
Now that it has, Walcoff said the department just isn’t prepared to undergo such an endeavor.
And justifiably so. Walcoff agreed that this kind of game would certainly generate a ton of attention from the program’s fans, but the pieces – like souvenir booths and concessions stands, for example – would not be in place to make the project work.
“From [a Sports Information Director’s] point of view, what do you do with all of the media who need wireless Internet?” Walcoff asked. “That’s not just it either. There are a lot of other things we’d have to overcome if we were to seriously consider this.”
Reserved season ticket holder’s seats would be made general admission for a game at McGonigle Hall, a move Walcoff said “could create upheaval.” Additionally, fans who view games from the suites suddenly would be suite-less.And with McGonigle Hall only capable of handling roughly 4,000 fans, there is a remote possibility of a sellout.
“If we did it, we’d advertise it,” Walcoff said. “So the last thing we’d want to do is turn people away at the door.”
Walcoff said a “Throwback Night” at the Liacouras Center is in its earliest stages of planning for next season, with fans who attend the men’s basketball game (date and time to be determined) being treated to free retro jersey giveaways and, possibly, reduced prices on concessions.
So for fans out there who are ready to head back to McGonigle Hall – make sure to have your replica Mark Macon jerseys squared away in the top drawer, but don’t dust them off quite yet.
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at christopher.vito@ temple.edu.