Posted: 10:04 a.m. Friday, April 12, 2013
By Jeff Gentil
OK so in which old, rundown, badly in-need-of-a-renovation arena should UC play its basketball games in the future? Fifth Third Arena has been out of date for nearly 20 years. It was built with a few pennies UC found in the late 80's and while it has been the site of many many great games and memories, UC is falling behind especially as they're trying/begging/pleading/praying they get into the ACC or Big 12. Most of us know just how bad the arena is. There are too many things to list if you've been there to watch games. I think it's actually a good thing I haven't been to Louisville's Yum! Center to compare, but I've heard there is no comparison and it would make me sick to know exactly how bad Fifth Third is when putting the venues side by side.
As for US Bank...well yeah, it's a dump in my opinion. It's been renovated a few times but it really needs a major overhaul. It needs new seats, they need to move their suites (not sure how they do that), and a slew of other items. BUT...if you believe twitter, Zach Wells from Channel 12 dropped this one from Mick Cronin yesterday
#Bearcats Coach Mick Cronin said playing in 5/3 Arena, as is, probably isn't viable long-term.Exploring option of moving games downtown.— Zach Wells (@WellsZach) April 11, 2013
What does it mean? Well obviously UC is exploring moving games to US Bank Arena. This started a variety of rumors around the twitterverse shortly afterward. The biggest and most intriguing one was that US Bank has proposed a $100 million renovation to the arena should UC commit to moving basketball games downtown for an extended period of time.
Take it for what it's worth because The Nederlander group who owns US Bank Arena have not officially made comment so it could be just a bad rumor...and with twitter that's always a possibility. But in my opinion, if the rumor is indeed true, I don't see any way UC can turn this down. Sure it would be harder for students to show up but let's be honest , the students would show up just as well/poorly as they usually do for games 10 minutes away especially if UC provided some sort of busing service like they have for football games at Paul Brown Stadium. Also, and I think this is the most important aspect of it all, UC doesn't have the money to renovate Fifth Third Arena. They are raising in the neighborhood of $75 million for the Nippert renovation, so asking for more money immediately following this for a Fifth Third renovation is going to be dicey.
Another factor we need to take into consideration: if you believe reports that Minnesota offered Mick $2.8 per year to leave UC, but Whit Babcock (and perhaps Prez Ono) stepped up with assurances that the basketball program would be taken care of...just what promises were made to Mick? If I'm betting (and I quit that years ago), I'd imagine some sort of discussion was held as to the future of Fifth Third Arena and facilities. Football was taken care of with the Nippert project, I'd bet Mick - knowing how bad his arena is - wanted to have his back scratched as well. Maybe renovating and moving to US Bank is what Mick asked for. We may never know exactly what was said or promised, but I'd bet Mick is pushing for something to be done.
So, if UC is not going to have to put up a dime and they'd get a brand new-ish arena that seats in or around 17,000, why wouldn't they do this? To me it's a no-brainer. US Bank is not a great place, but it could be a LOT better. We already know it gets loud AND UC plays very well there for some reason or another. With $100 million (allegedly) it could be a fantastic move for the future of UC basketball...and the financial status of the university and athletic department. I'm all in! Let's do this! (now I'm sure it won't happen)