Michigan Basketball: Mailbag Question — Ground Breaking for Hoops


Posted at 6:00am — 5/12/2010

Michigan Basketball: Mailbag Question — Ground Breaking for Hoops


What does the new practice facility mean for the hoops programs? How will it make them better and how will they get better.

I realize most programs have practice facilities now, but how will this make the Michigan program better and how will it make Michigan an NCAA tournament team that also can contend for Big Ten championships?

>Dan F.


GBMWolverine Response:

For quite a few years the value of building a practice facility for the basketball programs was bandied about. For years, improvement to Crisler and building such facilities did not move forward past the initial discussion stage.

At the same time, discussion about the eventual fate of Crisler also never moved forward. It now seems apparent that the plan is to continue to make Crisler improvements and keep the now somewhat venerable structure into the foreseeable future. How long this status quo will last before the building of a new arena is unknown.

Michigan has a smaller student population and a much smaller town population compared to say Ohio State and Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State wanted the lure of newness for recruiting purposes and also a bigger arena to sell about 4,000 more tickets a game. And so the Schott, an arena capable of putting 18,000 plus patrons in the house, was constructed. Largeness sells in Columbus.

Ann Arbor does not have 10% of the Columbus Metro area population. Keeping up with the neighbors would be expensive and could result in a new house with many empty seats. Anyone who wishes to get a ticket to UM basketball can do so with ease. Unless the product becomes fab-five type phenomenal, it is very unrealistic to expect 18,000 at the typical UM home game.

So, the decision was made to build a quality practice facility.

Will a nice practice facility, in and of itself, cause Michigan to become better? No, talented players will cause the program to improve. But, talented players are much more likely to consider schools with better facilities. The sales pitch will now revolve around the combined program positives and the new facilities, focusing on the new practice center.

Duke plays in front of 8,000 or so in a legendary bandbox. This program seems to be doing very well, thank you.

Tearing down Crisler to build a similar modern structure of say 15,000 was probably tempting to university administrators. But from this corner sinking the money into an impressive practice facility seems prudent and the best option.

Someday there will be a renovated arena; the question will be what model to follow, downsized but spectacular, or massive?

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff

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