What on our campus is small, outdated, and desperately in need of replacement?
If you answered the Performing Arts Center, you’re right. And if you answered the Matadome, home to our basketball and volleyball teams, you’re also right.
Both facilities are like open wounds in need of medical attention. Both should be treated, but instead, one is being cleaned and stitched up, while the other is having dirt poured over it.
Let’s put aside for the moment the fact that the name “Matadome” is a ridiculous lie. Domes don’t have flat roofs. As long as the Matadome is home to men’s basketball, our university will be the target of jokes and insults from fans of rival schools like UC Santa Barbara and Long Beach State. At a televised men’s basketball game last season at the Matadome, Fox Sports Net announcer and UCLA alum Jack Haley openly mocked the facility.
CSUN President Jolene Koester has plans for a 1,600-seat $100 million replacement for the current PAC, while the Matadome is scheduled to remain an outdated relic. If the price tag of $100 million seems like a lot, that’s because it is. The 19,000-seat Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles cost about $300 million to build.
I’m not against building a new performing arts center. It definitely has its benefits. But a new basketball arena could help our program emerge on the national scale and bring more notoriety to our university than any performance of “Stand By Your Man: The Tammy Wynnette Story” would.
Athletic Director Richard Dull hasn’t said much about the issue, and would prefer other people be silent about it, too. When CSUN fans starting chanting for a new arena at a men’s basketball game attended by Dull, a representative from the Athletics Department was sent over to tell them to stop.
You can’t really blame Dull for the situation, though. I certainly don’t. In his capacity as Athletic Director, he’s doing exactly what he’s being paid to do, and that’s take the actions Koester wants him to take. The problem is that Koester doesn’t seem to want him to take any action at all when it comes to getting a new basketball arena. She has refused to answer questions related to the topic.
One person who hasn’t been as hesitant to speak out about the issue is Bobby Braswell, men’s basketball head coach. In an interview last spring on the McDonnell-Douglas show on ESPN Radio 710 AM, Braswell said that a new arena on campus would help him bring in better players and schedule home games against bigger schools. The coach repeated this claim in an interview with LA36’s Randy Rosenbloom that was aired at halftime of CSUN’s February 5 win over UC Irvine. This year, the only non-conference home game scheduled was against mighty Cal Baptist, a mere National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics school. Then again, maybe I shouldn’t mock Cal Baptist, since their home court is probably better than ours.
Braswell, a CSUN alumnus, also said having a new arena would provide enough incentive for him to remain at CSUN, should job offers from bigger programs come in. Braswell told the Los Angeles Daily News in January that he also supports the new PAC.
So why not do both? There are two options that could satisfy both the art lovers and sports lovers in the CSUN community.
The first would be to build a multi-purpose facility, similar to UC Irvine’s Bren Center. The Bren seats 5,000 for basketball games, but can also be configured to host concerts and shows. However, the use of the facility for sporting events would reduce the times available for the artsy stuff.
The second, and better, option would be to build two separate facilities. Hofstra University in New York opened their new basketball arena in January 2000. It seats over 5,000 people and also hosts concerts, conventions and trade shows. Cost: A mere $15 million. Building an arena similar to Hofstra’s would scale back some of the plans for the PAC, but I’m pretty sure you can still build one damn fine PAC for $85 million.
Fifty million dollars of the total cost for the new PAC will come from private donations. Koester has proven herself to be an excellent fundraiser, so I don’t doubt her ability to raise that kind of cash. I just question her reasoning for putting it all into the same project.
CSUN produces over $4 for every $1 it receives from the state, making it unquestionably one of the most important parts of the San Fernando Valley. Plans are in place to make it the cultural center of the Valley, but it should be the athletic center of the Valley, too. To make that happen, the administration must act sooner rather than later.
Dylan Boggs is a senior broadcast journalism major.