Anyone who ever walked into the Hall of Echoes that was Memorial Coliseum during an IPFW men's basketball game knew immediately what the program was suffering from there.
Call it an atmospheric condition.
Which is to say, there was no atmosphere, unless you count solitude as an atmosphere. The 1,500 or so fans scattered around the place sounded like mountain climbers shouting down a valley ("Hello ... hello ... hello"). There was virtually no student presence, and all those empty seats just swallowed up any ambient crowd noise, making the Coliseum one of the least intimidating homecourts in the Summit League.
All that was missing were the tumbleweeds and the batwing saloon doors creaking in the prairie wind. Welcome to Ghost Town Central, folks.
Well. No more.
Finally arriving at the obvious conclusion, IPFW has decided to move the majority of its games back to the cozy Gates Center, and it's high time. In the Gates, which seats 1,875, the Mastodons will have at least a fighting chance at establishing an actual homecourt advantage. The student presence, for one thing, is expected to go up as much as 200 percent, and it's the student presence that puts the life (not to mention the loud) into any college arena.
Best of all, the Mastodons will still play select games in the Coliseum, which means head coach Tony Jasick and his staff will still be able to use the place as a recruiting tool.
Look. Back in 2003-04, when IPFW was still trying to create a Division I footprint, moving the basketball games to the Coliseum made sense. It gave the school a big-time feel at a time when a big-time feel was needed.
Now the school is what it is, a D-I semi-mid-major. Its footprint is set. So why not try to have some fun at long last?
Sure couldn't hurt.