University considers moving basketball programs
The ETSU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics might move its basketball programs to smaller venues in an effort to generate greater audience interaction.
Intercollegiate Athletics Director Richard Sander said that men's basketball will probably move to Freedom Hall, and women's basketball will probably move to Brooks Gym.
"We're just trying to find the best possible home for ETSU basketball," Sander said. "Over the years, the Dome has served ETSU and as we start to look at a lot of things, trying to create a whole facilities master plan that benefits a lot of different programs."
Sander said that looked into Freedom Hall shortly after taking over the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, and, after looking into, it became obvious to him that the facility was meant for basketball.
"We decided, this year, to have a little bit of a trial," Sander said. "We played those three tournament games up there just to try to kind of get a feel for it, and after those three games, having pretty extensive discussions with fans and ticket holders and people who were at those games, it was very positive."
Sander said that before the university can use Freedom Hall for men's basketball on a regular basis, he thinks that the building needs to be renovated.
"For us to have serious discussions about playing in there, there are some things that have to be done to enhance that building," Sander said. "It's a 40- to 45-year-old building. It hasn't had much done to it. ... We definitely need it to be branded with ETSU marks and logos and that sort of thing. We need some other things to happen before we'll seriously consider it."
Sander said that though the university has had conversations with Johnson City about using the facility, the decision to use Freedom Hall has not yet been made.
"We've had some discussion about what we think needs to happen, and they're kind of looking at that to see what they can do from an investment and resources standpoint," Sander said. "Once they tell us what they can do, then we just have to make that decision as to whether that's enough or not."
Even if the university decides against moving men's basketball to Freedom Hall, women's basketball will still move to Brooks Gym.
"I think Coach [Brittney] Ezell likes the compactness of the building," Sander said. "It seats 2,800 or something like that. So, I think we see that as a really good venue for women's basketball. The energy and enthusiasm and noise that's created in that building I think can really benefit our women's team."
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