This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.Follow Rayno on Twitter @AmeliaRayno
Everyone loves to complain about the rising costs of attending a good old fashioned ballgame.
But it seems Gophers fans are more than willing to pay the price.
A report from Vivid Seats, an online ticket marketplace shows that Minnesota owns the 11th most expensive re-sold NCAA basketball ticket in the nation for their site, with a median price of $84 per ticket.
(Data was compiled in late November.)
Kansas takes the cake at a median of $265 per ticket and Kentucky, Duke, Gonzaga, Indiana, UCLA, VCU, Georgetown, UNC and Wake Forest all fall ahead of the Gophers in terms of more expensive tickets.
Obviously, the Gophers have a monopoly in this state for college basketball, with no other Division I schools around – that should help Minnesota do very well, attendance-wise. But what’s interesting about the Gophers’ placement on this list is that Williams Arena doesn’t consistently sell out.
Since the market is set by sellers, prices for the tickets can be driven up by demand. What that means is that while the venue doesn’t always have a rear in every seat, Gophers fans are very willing to pay for better seats. There aren’t as many who are eager to sit in the nosebleeds though -- Williams’ cache of obstructed view seats might have something to do with that as well.
By contrast Michigan State, according to this report, has a medium ticket price of $55. The Gophers aren’t involved in any of the top-25 most expensive games this season. The priciest? UNC vs. Duke on March 8th, with a median entry cost of $1459. Yikes.
As most of you have figured out, there is no Midnight Madness this year for Minnesota.
In its place, however, is a team scrimmage -- the 'Raise the Barn: First Look Scrimmage -- that will be open to the public, held tomorrow (Friday) night at 7 p.m.
The Williams Arena event is free and doors will open at 6 p.m.
Coach Richard Pitino tweeted out the Gold and Maroon teams, which are as follows:
Maroon: Andre Hollins, Maverick Ahanmisi, Austin Hollins, Joey King, Elliott Eliason, Daquein McNeil, Jasen Baranowski (a walk-on guard).
Gold: Deandre Mathieu, Malik Smith, Wally Ellenson, Oto Osenieks, Mo Walker, Charles Buggs, Kendal Shell.
See more details here.
Minnesota’s new master facilities plan – with a basketball practice facility as one of the priorities -- should be finalized by April, Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague said at a press gathering on Thursday.
“I’m very excited for the future,” Teague said. “It’s going to be a fun next five to 10 years.”
A basketball facility is near the top of the list, with Teague again describing the implementation as a “need” and not a “want.”
“I guess it’s been a phenomenon of the last 10 years, and you can say, ‘Are they really needed?’ You do really need them,” Teague said. “Our guys have trouble at times getting into shoot, and our women have trouble at times getting into shoot. There’s a lot of people that use it, our dance team’s in there, or there’s an event that’s in there in the middle of the day, and it limits the availability … I think the money to raise is out there, it’s just a matter of fitting it into plan and moving it forward. So I do feel good about that, but it’s critical.”
Breaking down the total project into costs for individual pieces, like the practice facility, will come down the road. But for now, Teague estimated that the full facilities plan could cost in the $80 million to $125 million range. Teague has said in the past that the full plan could include a basketball practice facility, a new football building, a women's gymnastics facility, a wrestling facility, office enhancements and a center for student-athlete academics and dining.
The university is still looking at exactly where all the money will come from – how much they can feasibly raise privately and where the rest would come from.
“Money doesn’t grow on trees, and I know with the state budgets and things like that, we want to be very smart about what we do,” Teague said. “If it’s too expensive, we’ll have to cut back in areas. But right now with construction costs being pretty favorable, it’s different than it was five years ago, so you’ve got to go in and evaluate it. We need to get what we need and be smart about that. We don’t want to go crazy and spend in a way that’s going to be unwise.”
In that regard, Teague noted that the facilities don’t have to be extravagant, as seems to be the trend in college athletics – not just building something functional, but something with an overload of “flash” as Teague called it, and luxurious amenities.
“We’ve traveled around to a lot of facilities that maybe are a little over the top, and I don’t know if we need to do that,” Teague said. “I think you need to get what you need and have it done in a first-class way, and then after that, your people make all the difference. And if you have great people, combined with the facilities that you need, I think then you’re rolling.”
Once a blueprint is in place, Teague said a tour around the state is planned to help raise money and drum up excitement for the program and the plans.
“Really go around and shake hands and renew, rejuvenate the pride in Gopher athletics,” he said. “I’ll tell you what because one thing I have learned after being here eight months is that it seems like everybody cares about the U and Gopher athletics. You maybe didn’t go here, but your dad went here or your mom went here or your great uncle went here. And it’s the only Division I school in the state. And I’ve been in four states with Divison I schools and it doesn’t compare. And that’s a positive, but it’s something we have to do a better job of reaching out.”
Other notes from today’s press conference:
Games like last night don’t come around very often, either for fans or for a beat writer like myself.
So let’s stay wrapped up in it for just a little longer.
Some quotes from Smith’s press conference:
“Every victory is a plus for the program, but getting a victory like last night is significant, probably a milestone for us.”
On what it can do for the team and the program: “It helps in a lot of ways – the morale of the team, for me, the belief that hey, we can do it fellas. I never really lost belief but it’s encouraging for our fanbase as well as other things. It helps in recruiting when kids see a positive – see the fans and see the floors being rushed like that.”
On the rushing: “I was really concerned that people jumping up on the court that might hurt themselves, like I have a couple times.”
On keeping the team balanced: “With this team, we had a good win against Wisconsin and we didn’t respond very well. So I’m just concerned. As I’ve said before – never get too high, never get too low, never get too discouraged, just make sure you keep balance in your life, and that’s what we try to preach to our players. When you get too high, you want to create that false sense of accomplishment, and when you get too low, you try to find ways to build yourself back up, and that can give you a false sense as well. So you can’t lie to yourself about what’s going on.”
Minnesota’s master planning project is coming to a close, but the biggest pieces of the process are still ahead, Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague told me over the phone on Thursday.
At this point, POPULOUS – the firm the university hired to create a master facilites blueprint – has completed all of the interviews (with staff, coaches and others involved with the U) that are necessary when considering such major projects and moves like these, and the two biggest pieces remaining are the spacing issues and the financial estimates, which should wrap up in the next couple of months.
As for the coveted basketball practice facility, that remains one of the main priorities of the plan. In terms of securing funding, Teague says he feels very confident.
“I think we’ll be in good shape as it relates to hoops,” Teague said. “In our case, as I’ve said before, it’s just a real need. Many things are wants – that’s a need for us. That’s something we have to have for a number of different reasons.”
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