Monday, January 16, 2012

A Good Move

University of Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez is coming under fire for his handling of the WIAA Basketball Championships at the Kohl Center.

For those unfamiliar with the situation, Alvarez would like the traditional weekends Madison hosts Boys and Girls State available for the Badger Hockey teams to be able to host Big Ten Tournament games or a Women's Final Four from now on.  Last week, Barry basically gave the WIAA a "take it or leave it" option of playing its tourney games Tuesday thru Thursday--or forget about using the Kohl Center.  That has the WIAA looking for a new home--most likely the Resch Center in Green Bay.  And you know what I say?  That sounds great to me.

The Resch Center is a perfect venue for the state basketball championships.  With a capacity of 10,500--instead of the 17,000+ of the Kohl Center--the arena won't seem so cavernous, especially for the girls' tournament games.  They haven't ever had to open the upper deck at the Kohl for a girls game--and few seats are sold upstairs for the boys either.  The same size crowd packed into a smaller venue will create much better atmosphere for every game.

Getting to the Resch Center is certainly easier than getting to the Kohl Center.  An simple exit from Highway 41 to Lombardi Avenue (or from Highway 172 to Oneida Street) and you are just a few blocks away from the arena.  Unlike getting to the UW campus--which requires navigating the narrow, clogged streets of Madison for half an hour.  And once fans get there, you have plenty of on-site parking available in the Lambeau Field parking lot--or free parking on the surrounding streets--rather than the exorbitant rates charged by the City of Madison for its ramps--or running the risk of being towed if you park on the street four miles away.

For the thousands of fans that take in Madison's other "attractions" when they say they are going to the games, don't worry.  Bay Park Square Mall offers plenty of shopping and dining options--just like State Street.  (OK, maybe you won't find as many skull bongs or "street artists" on Oneida Street.)  And the burgers at Kroll's West are better than those at the Nitty Gritty or Dotty Dumpling's Dowry.

Opponents of the move decry the loss of "tradition" if the championships are not played at the Kohl Center or the Fieldhouse.  Believe me, no one walking past the school trophy case 25-years from now will look at the Gold Ball Trophy and tell their kids "Yeah, we were State Champions--but we won that game in Green Bay."

One of the best scenes in sports movie history is in Hoosiers when coach Norman Dale has his Hickory Huskers players measure the height of the rim (10 feet) and the distance to the free throw line (15 feet) at Hinkle Fieldhouse--to show them they are the same as their small gym at home.  And you know what?  The distances will be the same for the kids who play for state titles at the Resch Center or the Kohl Center.  And that is all that matters.

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