St. John’s got it right on this one.
The University announced last week that Carnesecca Arena, the 46-year-old complex that serves as home to men’s basketball when the team is not playing at Madison Square Garden, will undergo a long-overdue renovation this summer.
“The renovation of Carnesecca Arena is vital, not only to our basketball programs, but to the entire athletics department since it houses most of our student-athletes, administrators and coaches,” St. John’s Director of Athletics Chris Monasch said in a statement.
That much is obvious. When potential recruits see the $5 million upgrades, in addition to the remaining renovations that will make up the $30 million overall restoration of the facility, Norm Roberts and Kim Barnes-Arico will no doubt have an easier time landing said recruits.
“Kids all want to see shiny and new,” Roberts told The Torch. “I think kids have seen how this campus has grown.”
What kids don’t want to see is the construction that could have started over winter break or been finished over the summer. It has disgracefully taken up a good portion of the student parking in addition to being a true eyesore.
What’s not obviously deduced from Monasch’s statement is the effect that the renovations will have on what could be the team’s X-factor: the fans.
Put yourself in the shoes of a recruit for a second. Would you rather be playing in: A) an updated, state-of-the-art facility that sells out game after game or B) a high school gym-esque arena that struggles to sell out, even while playing conference foes.
At the beginning of next season the first part of scenario A will be a reality. After that, it’s time to make the second part come true. And so far things are looking good for the University.
Reaction has generally been positive, as most fans are excited for the upgrades. However, the ever-present cynics are pointing, first and foremost, to the fact that only 800 of the arenas approximately 6,000 seats will have chairbacks.
A fair point, perhaps, but let’s get real. St. John’s fans have been waiting, and have deserved this, for a long time. And let’s give the University some credit here too.
St. John’s was willing to get rid of its foldable bleachers that, while unsightly and uncomfortable, did provide a lot of versatility on the playing surface for other events.
The atmosphere should also be greatly improved. As seen in the renderings on Redstormsports.com, the arena will have a new updated look and, finally, all seats will be red.
So let’s see how this plays out. Fans have been impatient in recent years with the men’s program, and rightfully so. But now there’s something to look forward to.
Maybe now it won’t take 20 minutes to get a hot dog at the concession stand, and maybe now ticket scalpers will once again have a reason to roam precariously prior to games.
And maybe, just maybe, St. John’s has added another piece to the puzzle to bring in more recruits.