Sunday, February 04, 2007

Hoo Knew

Part of the fun of my profession is that you are actually encouraged to visit other Universities and observe how they might operate their athletic departments.

I chose to attend the Virginia - Duke game February 1st. What a choice as the Hoos upset No 8 Duke on a fall-away show on the baseline in the closing seconds of overtime. But aside from the game, I was also very excited to see brand spankin new John Paul Jones Arena which has been described as one of college basketball's finest venues.

Instead of a traditional, paragraph style blog, I thought I would just put into bullets the more interesting things I observed/learned from my trip.

First and foremost, the Charlottesville, VA area is simply breathtaking. Being my first time in the area, I had heard great things but the reality exceeded what I had heard. Beautiful rolling hills in front of even more amazing Blue Ridge mountains.

JPJ, as the locals call it, is not only the finest college venue I have seen, but would rival any facility on earth. The closest arena I could compare it to might be Conseco Fieldhouse - home of the Indiana Pacers.

  1. Outside architecture - Blends very well into the Jeffersonian feeling throughout the campus (or "grounds" as they call campus)
  2. Entry video boards - As soon as you enter the arena you are greeted by two very large video boards in the lobby. Now granted, I only was exposed to them for a few moments, but Ithought they were underutilized. I thought they might could be posting team stat information, highlighting student-athletes, upcoming promotions, high level donors, or perhaps a secondary intro video to begin the hype machine as soon as the fan enters the building.
  3. Orientation to street level - I love when arenas dig deep and make the court level well below the street level . When you do this, no one in the arena has to climb 50,000 steps as we have in Memorial Gym at Vanderbilt. The lobby at JPJ pours our into the first row of the upper level.
  4. Seats - May be my favorite part, as many people overlook such a small element. But UVA had the presence of mind to make the seats leather, or at least pseudo-leather. Very comfortable.
  5. Center hung scoreboard - Easily the most thought out element of the arena. I heard they spent $7M on the scoreboard alone, well over double what most people spend. You can see it int he photo above, but what I love the most is the flexibility ti be able to display three different messages (or complementary messages) at the same time. Such as a replay, plus the player's bio including real time game stats, and the game's current stats like FG% etc.
  6. Intro video - A little weak. They have their "thing" which includes an in-house animator that creates a new video every game. Quite respectable. The videos typically include the Cavman slaying the opponent, the Blue Devil. Pretty cool, but would get old real quick.
  7. Video screen - forgot to mention the enormity and clarity of the main video screen. HD screen that had to be at least 30 feet wide.
  8. Suites - Very clean, new as to be expected, but nothing earth shattering.
  9. Student sections - I love that they put most of the students behind the visitor's second half basket, and a small strip of them behind the benches. Very well thought-out. All clad in orange mind you.
  10. Lexus Lounge - Very cool, but one slight problem. The sightlines are a bit obstructed from this donor area which resides at the ground level, behind the basket. When seated in the lounge, the last row of the lower level blocks your view.
  11. Restrooms - Whoa, clearly this was a sore spot. At least on my level, no way close to enough restrooms. Very long lines.
  12. Concessions - I did not eat anything, but the lines here were long too. . However, it is a nice feature that the stands are sort of in an alcove off the concourse so the lines do not clog the concourse.
  13. Sound system - Very good. Especially when compared to our home. However, they might be taking the sound a bit too far. I heard a few people already complaining about the sound level. Nothing new there though.

That about covers it. I love it. It certainly helped that the home team won. That always makes the event fun.

Take care

1 comment:

extrapolater said...

Nice blog. I was there the same night, also for the first time, and wrote about the arena as well. I've linked to your post - here's mine:

http://extrapolater.com/s-jpj.html