Archive for Sunday, January 16, 2011

Basketball capital?

January 16, 2011

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Imagine being a 10- or 12-year-old child and playing for a national basketball championship on the famed floor of Allen Fieldhouse.

Talk about your hoop dreams.

But a couple of recent news items make us wonder whether such an idea has to be confined to the imagination. First, was a Journal-World article about Lawrence being chosen as the host city for this year’s U.S. Specialty Sports Association’s Winter National Basketball Tournament. The three-day event in March is expected to attract about 4,500 participants to Lawrence from all over the country. For Lawrence merchants, the event ought to be prettier than a perfectly timed alley-oop.

The second item was the hiring of Sheahon Zenger as Kansas University’s next athletic director. Zenger’s connection to Lawrence — for a time he lived a few blocks away from the fieldhouse — has created considerable enthusiasm. Zenger is not a man who has to imagine the excitement that Allen Fieldhouse can create for a sports-loving child. He’s experienced it.

All this may create a significant opportunity for Lawrence. What if the community and KU Athletics could come together on a plan to open Allen Fieldhouse for one week out of the year to host championship games for the premiere youth basketball tournament in America? How many families from across the country would travel to Lawrence if they thought their son or daughter had a chance to play in one of basketball’s most historic venues? How much would that add to Lawrence’s economy and reputation? Could Lawrence land itself on national television for a week like Williamsport, Pa., does for the Little League World Series?

It would be fun to find out.

Lawrence has the chance to excel in many economic endeavors. We’re a fine university community, well situated, with talented and hard-working residents.

We’re also basketball crazy.

Lawrence truly has the potential to be known as the Basketball Capital of America. Excitement is building over the possibility that Dr. Naismith’s original rules of basketball will be coming home to KU. Those rules, perhaps housed in a new facility worthy of such an important piece of history, could be a cornerstone for the Basketball Capital title. A youth basketball tournament that crowns a true national champion at the center court of Allen Fieldhouse could be another.

If we’re serious about such an effort, there will be much to build: a marketing effort, a team of volunteers, a bank account, adequate housing, etc. But, of course, what does not need to be built is the venue. Allen Fieldhouse is the Fenway Park of college basketball. It’s the Lambeau Field. It’s the Boston Garden. Its history lies not in its lobby displays but in the fact it is the place where history-makers actually displayed their talents.

Here in Lawrence, we know all of this. The really good news is that many people across the country know it too. We don’t have to build that. We just have to open its front door a little wider.

Comments

cato_the_elder 4 years, 6 months ago

SI.com's choices for best college sports venues (football, basketball, baseball, hockey, rowing) ranks Allen Fieldhouse 10th, Cameron Indoor Arena 2nd. Allen is ranked behind the Charles River (rowing) and Mariucci Arena (hockey), sports with which a significant majority of Americans living outside of the northern and northeastern parts of the country are generally unfamiliar.

It'll always be that way. Whenever Vitale mentions how great Allen Fieldhouse is, he always, without fail, makes sure to mention Duke's venue (in a veiled manner of course) as being numero uno.

We're in Kansas, folks. That's the way it is.

WrestlingFan99_us 4 years, 6 months ago

How about a wrestling tournament!!!!!! Every kid wants to run out onto Allen Fieldhouse, even wrestlers from Kansas! Kansas has one of the top numbers for kids wrestling, yet does not have a D1 school to call home. OU is stacked with KS wrestlers!

I feel sad when I see good wrestling athletes who walk away from the quality wrestling programs in Lawrence, because their parents think they can be Bball jayhawks. Most end up playing Juco or NAIA, when if they would have toughed out the wrestling, could have got a quality D1 experience and education! After wrestling, everything in life is easy!

davidsmom 4 years, 6 months ago

I'm pretty sure I've heard various sports announcers call Allen Fieldhouse the best venue in the country for college basketball, and I think a few writers have done so, also.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 6 months ago

The only reason Allen Field House is mentioned as being the best college basketball venue is because it is.

notajayhawk 4 years, 6 months ago

"Excitement is building over the possibility that Dr. Naismith’s original rules of basketball will be coming home to KU."

Psssst: Pretty sure Naismith invented the game elsewhere.

Perhaps if you want Larryville to be considered the Basketball Capital of America, the editors of the local newspaper ought to be familiar with the game's history.

(BTW - you can find the 13 rules posted all over the web - at least until KU gets their hands on them and trademarks them.)

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