As Seattle University pushes forward in Division 1, the school is looking to makes its imprint in the NCAA. One of the keys to this is getting students involved in the sporting events and making their presence known.
The men’s basketball team is doing their part by hosting six games at the newly refurbished Connolly Center. Friday, Nov. 11 will be the first time the Redhawks will host a regular season game on campus since the team made the move to D1 in 2009. Their home games normally played at Key Arena in the Seattle Center.
Playing at Key Arena presents a unique opportunity for the players on the basketball team. While most D1 collegiate basketball teams have an arena that was built for them, the Redhawks get to play in the same arena as professional basketball players. The arena is currently home to the Seattle Storm women’s professional team and formerly the Seattle Supersonics men’s professional team.
While playing in an arena like this can be exciting, it also presents some negative aspects. The biggest issue is filling a stadium with a 8,900 person capacity at a school where the undergraduate attendance is just 4,500. While there have been some games with a full crowd at Key Arena, it is far from the norm.
Enter the Connolly Center fresh off of renovations. The home to Seattle U’s women’s basketball team can hold 999 people. This might be a little small for the men’s team who usually draw over 1,000 people to Key Arena, but it will make for a more raucous atmosphere.
Coach Cameron Dollar isn’t concerned that filling Connolly Center will be a problem for the men’s games, but wants to raise awareness for the team. He wants to make sure that students know how hard they are working and that they come out and support.
“Whether it’s faculty, staff, or students we just want everyone to be aware of what the men’s team is doing,” Coach Dollar said.
This also isn’t the first time games will be played in Connolly Center as Seattle U has hosted some tournaments the past few years.
“We had really good success with postseason games last year. High energy, high enthusiasm. We want to continue to build on what we have. At this stage of our program playing in a small arena makes a difference in the energy during the games.”
The idea is that playing games on campus that take less time to travel to will get people hooked enough to eventually make their way back to Key Arena. Coach Dollar said that there have been games at Key Arena with that kind of atmosphere, but building awareness of the program is the goal for now.
While it may take a few years to get Key Arena filled with Redhawks, all the team can do for now is prepare for the season and look forward to a new playing environment.
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