Catch-22

If anything, my time at UVM –– primarily in the stands and press areas of Patrick Gym and Gutterson Fieldhouse –– has convinced me of two things:

1) The University needs a newer, larger, more modern arena for its marquee sports.

2) It will be a sad day if/when we have to say good-bye to Patrick and The Gut.

Gutterson Fieldhouse

In coming to this, though, I have come across a few different facts. We can think of it as another minor area of study during my undergraduate period.

An obvious fact: Patrick Gym and Gutterson are, with the exception of Matthews Arena at Northeastern –– essentially an irreplaceable Boston relic –– the oldest facilities in both America East and Hockey East, and two of the smallest ones at that. They’re lovable, but lovable only gets you so far.

A financial fact: while a new arena will be undoubtedly expensive, it will certainly have room for more fans, which means increased ticket sales (more people, more tickets, more money).

A sad fact: what is endearing and attractive to you, me and any other serious fans –– Patrick Gym and The Gut’s character, quirks, closeness to the action and history –– is not always appealing to the athletes competing on the ice or court.

A probable fact: after visiting some of the newest, nicest arenas in America East and Hockey East, it is likely that a new UVM venue will produce, sadly, a dissatisfying fan experience.

New facilities will attract higher caliber coaches and recruits to UVM’s blooming athletic program.

Part of the grand cycle: steps were taken to achieve more success, success was achieved, more enticing resources will attract even better people to achieve even greater success.

The University has done just about everything short of building new facilities, except instituting astronomical coaches’ salaries, to become more successful. A new, marketable resource like an arena is the logical next step.

Old facilities, well, they speak for themselves. The great ones are kept for their character and history (and sometimes the prohibitive expense of a replacement).

They’re what make college sports special, compared to the professional level.

Your traditional hockey barn –– Gutterson is a standout here –– is disappearing. Your matchbox, foldout-bleacher gym (Patrick) is going by the wayside too.

So, while a new arena will mean more fans and more room for students, they will be farther away from the action, especially for basketball. Agganis Arena at B.U. –– a gorgeous, amazing facility –– is a perfect example of this.

If I had my druthers, I’d take old and classic over shiny and new, any day.

The thing of it is, I also want to see more wins… It’s the only catch, Catch-22.

That damn Yossarian was right.

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