by Kevin Copp ’18
Friday night’s opening game for the Providence College Men’s Basketball Team demonstrated the need for more games to take place on campus. The Friars played in front of a raucous crowd and resulted in a demonstrative win for the Friars over Houston Baptist University inside Alumni Hall.
However, the 84-55 victory is not the only positive takeaway from the game and the energetic atmosphere in which it was played.
In future years, Athletic Director Bob Driscoll should capitalize on the excitement generated by the on-campus game and schedule one opponent per year for a game at Alumni Hall’s Mullaney Gym.
A big advantage of playing an on-campus game every year is the increased enthusiasm students will have for an early season opponent that would otherwise generate lackluster anticipation. Students will want to turn out (and up) for the only on-campus game of the season no matter who the opponent is.
While a team like Houston Baptist, virtually unknown in the world of college basketball, might create very little interest amongst students if it is only a normal regular season game, playing against them in Mullaney Gym increases the curiosity.
The main objection to playing more games on campus is the disparity in capacity between the Dunkin’ Donuts Center and Mullaney Gym. The athletic department will obviously lose some revenue in the form of diminished ticket sales. There is simply no way to make up that amount of money lost when Alumni has nearly 10,000 fewer seats than the Dunk.
However, it is also virtually impossible that Houston Baptist would ever sell out the Dunk. Last year’s season opener pitted the Friars against the University of Vermont and drew only a little over 8,000 fans.
While 8,000 tickets might still seem like a lot, consider that student tickets for the Alumni game also made up for some of the lost ticket revenue, as each student had to pay four dollars to secure a spot in the gym.
Another way the athletic department can make up the lost revenue is to make the Mullaney game a special event. Sure, the game on Friday might have seemed particularly interesting because the men’s team had not played there in 43 years. But the game can easily be marketed so that every year it feels like the Friars are honoring their history by playing in their old gym and where they rose to prominence as a great basketball program. Every year the team could bring back someone who played in the gym before the team moved its games to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
Imagine the promotions and the merchandise that would become so easy to sell. There could be hats, t-shirts, and other commemorative items that would mark the team’s annual Mullaney Gym Game.
Fans would flock to see the men’s team play their one game in Mullaney. It would become one of the main highlights of the non-conference season, right next to the University of Rhode Island game. It might even benefit the players: after all, they practice year-round in Mullaney and rarely, if ever, have anything more than a shootaround in the Dunk. Players would play with extra motivation and the entire PC community would rally on campus for the one big game that mixes PC basketball’s past and present.