Get College Basketball Out of Football Stadiums



Talk about taking the crowd out of the game.

Did you see the empty seats at those NCAA Regional games over the weekend? What genius at the NCAA decided it would be a good idea to play basketball games in indoor football stadiums? The Michigan-Florida game looked like a preseason exhibition game, with entire sections of lower-deck seats nearly empty. That's what you get for playing in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. After fans of the losing teams go home, the winners can't muster nearly enough locals and out-of-town fans who can afford the tickets and travel costs to make a respectable crowd.

It was a similar story in Indianapolis, where Louisville played Duke at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL Colts.

Only the East and West regionals were played in basketball stadiums. The Final Four will be played this weekend at The Georgia Dome in Atlanta, home of the Falcons.

At one time, the move to football stadiums was a novelty that attracted upwards of 40,000 fans who could at least say "I was there" even if they couldn't see much. No more. By the time the regular season, conference tournaments, and early rounds of the NCAA Tournament are over, most fans have had enough. The noise and excitement of a packed 15,000-seat stadium or even a 8,000-seat stadium beats a spotty, apathetic crowd at a cavernous football stadium every time.

This is March Madness of another kind. A maize-out in Ann Arbor or a crowd of Cameron Crazies in Durham or a sea of Tiger blue in FedExForum looks better on television. The atmosphere is electric. The pressure is intense. The background for the players is different. There is plenty of speculation that elevated courts can cause hideous injuries, like Kevin Ware's. (Here's another piece that quotes Dr. Frederick Azar, head of the Campbell Clinic in Memphis.) Time to call a time-out for a video review of tournament sites and change the call.

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