Jon on Johnnies: Take it outside

To say that St. John’s is the talk of the town this week would be a lie. In fact, to say that they’re the talk of the
University would be a lie as well and I’m not a liar. The talk  this  week  is  about   what’s
happening in East Rutherford this weekend when, for the first time in forever, two football teams will actually play in football weather to determine who is the best in the sport. But what few people are talking about is the Stadium series that is overtaking the tri-state area hockey teams.

Over the course of the week, the New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils will have a chance to take their talents outdoors as they face their city rivals for two important points in the standings, allowing fans to exchange bragging rights.

Of course, the Stadium series works because the cold weather adds a
special feel to the game of hockey. Most hockey players spent many hours on a pond or self-made rink near their house and wouldn’t come home until the sun went down.

But the same could be said for basketball players who overtake the blacktop to prove who is the king of the neighborhood. So this brings up my point, could you imagine if basketball were to go outdoors?

College basketball does a great job of honoring those overseas when certain college teams travel to battleships and duke it out. But for this moment, let’s ponder. Could you imagine if the NCAA partnered up with Arthur Ashe stadium and hosted an early season
tournament?

The average temperature in early November is a high of 67 degrees.   St. John’s alone wouldn’t draw a crowd; the Red Storm currently rank eighth in home attendance this season. But if they played quality opponents that early in the season they would draw a crowd. It would also be beneficial exposure for a University that’s perceived as an underperforming basketball school.

So here’s my suggestion: the four team’s would be St. John’s, Syracuse, Hofstra and Fordham.

Here’s my reason for each team: St. John’s is the obvious choice; the games would be played in Queens which would bring in the local crowd, and the University could offer free shuttle buses for students to Arthur Ashe, which is less than 15 minutes away.

Yes, this is a St. John’s publication, Syracuse is ‘New York’s Team’. If you don’t believe it, you weren’t sitting in the upper bowl of the Garden on December 15, where it was easily 70-30 Orange. Syracuse alumni travel well; whether it’s Boston for the NCAA Tournament or Maui, there is always an Orange Crush in terms of ‘Cuse fans. They would have no problem filling up Arthur Ashe.

Hofstra is the interesting choice, but necessary. There is a heavy alumni population for the Pride of Long Island, no kidding, but the Long Island Rail Road has a stop just minutes away from the stadium.  If fans choose to drive, they can cruise on the Northern State Parkway to the Grand Central in about 45 minutes.

It’s tough to go to any place in the city and not run into a Fordham grad. Plus their fans always pack the house pretty well during the Holiday festival and they seem to be a program on the rise.

This idea has about as much a chance of actually happening as I do winning a Pulitzer prize in the next six months, but for now it would be cool to think about a Big Apple Open.

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