Tuesday, January 23, 2007

No New Basketball Arena??

Did Ron Guenther blow the best chance to renovate Assembly Hall or build a new basketball arena in the wake of the Final 4? I got this e-mail from someone:

The biggest debacle in the Memorial Stadium renovation is simply put that they are doing it before they address Assembly Hall. Sorry, but simply put ... the basketball team was red hot, and you could have sold out your suites and probably sold out a section of club seats, too in about a week. Yet, instead, because we are a "football school" we decided to go out and renovate Memorial Stadium and beg for money while the iron was cold.

Now ... it looks like when we need to beg for money for Fighting Illini basketball, the iron will not be red hot as it was. For any one to predict that Illinois basketball would not have been as hot as it was after the 2004-2005 season when we started to ask for money for a renovation project, would have been common sense. Yet, our Athletic Department and University instead went for the difficult sell instead of the easy sell.

Now, they are, unfortunately, probably going to struggle to get the money raised for the Assembly Hall renovation as well since the people that would have donated money hand over fist may be tightening up their wallets after watching the Memorial Stadium debacle.

This school's desire to battle Michigan and Ohio State for football supremacy is a dumb direction. What they should be doing is continuing the battle to making Illinois the premier basketball program in the Big Ten. Now, we are slipping from our perch of the last eight - ten years, and it will be tough to climb back up. We should have been putting more and more resources into basketball.

We know basketball supremacy is achievable ... we also know football supremacy is not. Yet, we decide to keep pushing that rock up the hill only to start over again every day like a modern-day Sisyphus.


Anonymous oskeewowza said...

They won't have trouble raising the money for an Assembly Hall renovation.

What they will have trouble doing is justifying anything other than an Assembly Haall renovation and the time it has taken to reach a decision.

Its one thing to announce a plan and then say it will take a while to get executed...it is another thing to sit quietly, either doing nothing or scheming behind the scenes.

The season after the 37-2 NC run would have been perfect to make an announcement. As soon as the buzzer blew and thousands of Illini fans went home disappointed but hopeful for the future DIA should have been hard at work figuring out an 'XX step plan' to play off of this momentum. Assembly Hall action should have been in the top ten.

When the start of the next season came and the previous year's highlight reel is playing for an excited crowd with new recruits watching to see what the future holds...you unveil the idea to upgrade the facility. All part of a fresh new 'We just had a 37-2 season' recruiting package for Bruce Weber.

Instead...we didin't...yet we switched to the WIND in Chicago.

6:47 PM  

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