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Published: Monday, 3/3/2008

Bowling Green's AD prefers a cozy arena to big one

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - Bowling Green State University director of athletics Greg Christopher has looked at college basketball facilities over the past 18 months to get an idea of what BG's Stroh Center should look like.

Overwhelmingly, Christopher decided that bigger is rarely better. The Stroh Center, scheduled to open in 2012, will seat about 5,000, which is significantly less than other newer facilities in the Mid-American Conference.

"There have been a number of mid major facilities that have been built over the last decade, so we took a look at those I don't want to say as replicas, but starting points at what we're looking for," Christopher said.

The Stroh Center will be named after Kermit and Mary Lu Stroh, who donated $8 million to the university on Saturday. Of that amount, $7.7 million is earmarked for the arena that will house basketball, volleyball and other non-athletic events. Christopher believes MAC teams like Ohio, Northern Illinois, Ball State and Eastern Michigan did not plan accordingly when they built large facilities that often have an empty feel during games because the demand for tickets falls well short of the number of seats. Christopher said the 5,000 capacity of the Stroh Center is a "working number" but he doesn't expect the plans to change much when construction begins in late 2009 or early 2010.

"I'd much rather have a smaller facility where you can create ticket demand and you can create a great atmosphere," Christopher said. "Our number one objective for this building is a good home court advantage for our teams."

Anderson Arena, which will be replaced by the Stroh Center, will become the home of gymnastics and student athlete services.

Christopher hopes to instill some of Anderson's feel into the Stroh Center though changes to construction codes won't allow for that entirely. Stressing that a recent graphic of the Stroh Center is tentative, Christopher said the arena will include video boards and premium seating. Christopher, however, said suites are not in the plans and that he will seek input from fans regarding other amenities.

Stroh became a fan after attending games at Anderson Arena. Following a celebration in his honor on Saturday morning, Stroh stuck around to cheer on the Falcons in an 89-83 upset over Kent State.

"Anderson Arena is a great place, but it's served its purpose," he said.

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com.



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