By Dave Hanneman
I see where construction of the Stroh Center, the new basketball arena at Bowling Green State University, is ahead of schedule.
That’s good news. Let’s hope they don’t get so far ahead of themselves they don’t overlook some crucial amenities.
Like rest rooms.
I loved Anderson Arena. I can honestly say in my 31 years in this business, I have enjoyed covering games in that venue as much as anywhere. The press facilities were not the best, situated way up under the west-side roof. And BGSU staff did not always do a good job with stats. At the Division IV regional championship this past season, they had no one keeping official stats the entire first half. They said the person supposed to do the job forgot and showed up late.
The great thing about Anderson Arena was the atmosphere. It was electric. The place was not that big by Division I college standards. Capacity was under 5,000, I believe. But the fans were close to the action, the student sections were close and the placed rocked.
It didn’t hurt that BGSU hosted a lot of Division IV and Division III regional games. And when it comes to small-school fan support, no corner of the state does it better than Northwest Ohio.
I like the fact that the new Stroh Center is keeping things in perspective. There will be seating for around 4,500, and that should allow the facility to maintain that tight knit closeness between the game on the floor and the fans in the stands. And that’s what it’s all about anyway. Fans want to feel like they have a connection to the game going on. Otherwise you might just as well be watching it on a 20-x-30-foot screen.
Back to the rest rooms, though.
Fans who have seen a lot of games at Anderson Arena know what I’m talking about. The place had only two public rest rooms. The men’s was to the right from the front entrance; the women’s to the left.
Doubleheader nights were a nightmare. If you had to make a pit stop at halftime of the first game, there would be huge lines snaking out of both rest rooms, mingling right through big crowds trying to get to the concessions stands. Add in the people trying to get in for the second game and you had a veritable mosh pit of humanity.
They had a walk-through of the Stroh Center a while back. I couldn’t get away that day, so I’m hoping my breath is the only thing I’m holding as I wait to make a final judgement.