Tuesday, June 26, 2012

UWM moving men's basketball games back to campus

By Nicole
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In a rather surprising move, the UWM Panthers have announced that they are moving their men's basketball games back to campus. They will now be played in the Klotsche Center.

It was long thought this wouldn't be possible, as the Horizon League requires it's memebers to play in stadiums that seat at least 5,000 and the Klotsche's capacity is 3,400, but new UWM Athletic Director Andy Geiger apparently appealed to the league and received a waiver.

Long the red-headed step-child of state basketball teams, UWM receives little attention and support. The university clearly thinks that moving the team's games back to campus will raise campus awareness and get the students more interested.

The Panthers had played at the US Cellular Arena, but their lease is up. The school was paying about $230,000 for the right to use The Cell and much of that money was coming from student fees paid by students that never actually get a chance to attend games.

Predictably, the US Cellular Arena isn't thrilled about losing the tenant (and their money.)

UWM has been floating the idea of building a new basketball arena on campus and this move will certainly allow them to gauge the interest of the students and find out if such an investment is worthwhile. It should also rally the alumni who will likely foot much of the bill.

Of course, playing in the Cell made it convenient for folks to go to dinner and games post-work. Games on campus will require multiple stops for dinner and bring up a parking conundrum.

I'm torn as to whether or not this is the right move. Students had free tickets and a free ride downtown and didnt attend games, so I'm not sure this will invigorate the fan base, but being on campus has to be better than playing in an empty Cell.

Time will tell, I guess.

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