by Mike Coffey
Like most of you, the announcement yesterday of potential expansion / upgrade plans for Notre Dame Stadium caught me a bit by surprise. Given the efforts of our own NDRoman21 to do the same thing, it certainly wasn’t a foreign concept, but the desire to do something concrete certainly came out of the blue.
There’s plenty to like about the design, provided that it doesn’t include a giant blaring television screen. I’ve never been opposed to luxury boxes, since they’re likely to draw the corporate-type, sit-on-their-hands-and-shush-you fans out of the lower bowl. I also see the value in giving the Stadium the capability of hosting a wider range of events, although I’d be interested to see what kind of events they had in mind. Nothing about the pictures looks untoward or otherwise garish, so I have no issues on a taste level.
In fact, after perusing the plans and pictures and sampling some of the discussion on Rock’s House, I really was left with only one question:
This is going to be done after the basketball practice facility, right?
You remember, the practice facility that was promised to Mike Brey and Muffet McGraw over 10 years ago? The one that replaces the cinder-box gym with embedded columns, and actually gives ND basketball players dedicated workout, meeting, training and recovery areas? The kind of place even programs who don’t have a history of success have built or are planning to build?
I have to assume the answer to my question is “yes”. After all, how could it be otherwise? How could the pictures released today be anything but a slap in the face to Brey and McGraw — McGraw especially, given her team’s three straight trips to the Final Four — if somehow the multiple millions of dollars needed to upgrade Notre Dame Stadium for the second time in 20 years are sitting around available or otherwise easily accessible, while fundraising efforts for the much-needed practice facility fly so far under the radar you’d wonder if there’s even a radar?
It has to be “yes”. How would it look if “right now, we’re nowhere close” on a basketball practice facility, with no conceptual drawings, money, or even a concrete plan, while designs like this can be brought out for public view? What would it say about Notre Dame’s actual commitment to basketball (as opposed to the talk-is-cheap version) if a major plan can be put together to buttress fundraising efforts for a heretofore unannounced plan for football but not for a going-on-15-years plan for hoops?
There’s no way it can’t be “yes”. How could Jack Swarbrick look Mike Brey and Muffet McGraw in the eyes if it were not? How could he say with a straight face to Jerian Grant, Eric Atkins, Zach Auguste, Demetrius Jackson, Steve Vasturia, and all their teammates that Notre Dame is dedicated to championship-level basketball and wants to give them all the tools they need to succeed? What would Brey and McGraw say to recruits who saw the conditions of the Pit and then saw signs with the planned football expansion hanging right outside of it if their upgrade weren’t the higher priority?
How can it not be “yes”? Plenty of men’s basketball programs make money for their schools, so an investment like that to improve the experience of the current student athletes and increase the chances of attracting more certainly isn’t unreasonable. Sure, football is the most popular sport on campus, but even the biggest football fan out there would admit a second stadium upgrade in 20 years when the basketball programs are going on 50+ in their concrete coffin is unreasonable. Non-money-capable sports like Fencing and Golf got significant facility upgrades because it was the right thing to do, not because dollars could be brought in as a result.
Gotta be “yes”. Can’t be otherwise.
Because if it is……………………