Why not hold NMU and high school basketball games at the Superior Dome?
It came up during an informal roundtable discussion concerning “Memories of Hedgcock” Fieldhouse Wednesday night at the Beaumier Upper Peninsula Heritage Center at Northern Michigan University.
Why not hold NMU and U.P. regional tournament basketball games at the Superior Dome?
Stop shaking your head and laughing. It’s not as wacko of an idea as you might think.
There are few people who think Northern men’s and women’s basketball games should be held at the Berry Events Center as they are now.
The say the BEC is a hockey venue. That’s exactly what it has been since it was opened in October 1999. The basketball floor is placed over the ice surface when the Wildcats host hoops contests.
There are times – like Saturday – when there are NMU basketball games at the BEC in the morning and early afternoon, then the floor is removed before a hockey contest that night.
Many, many people have complained about being too far from the basketball court when seated in the BEC, as there are only a limited number of bleacher seats near the court.
Both the NMU men’s and women’s teams don’t really have a home court advantage, either, as neither can practice on the BEC basketball floor. They practice, instead, in gyms in the PEIF.
Hedgcock Fieldhouse, built in 1956, featured 5,000 seats and hosted numerous events, from NCAA women’s gymnastics to concerts. It also was the site for a three-day feast of U.P. high school basketball regional tournament action.
Hedgcock lacked adequate restroom facilities and had minimal concessions. You also had to arrive real early to get what limited parking was available anywhere near the facility.
But watching a basketball game there was magical. You were close to the action and there might not have been a bad seat in the fieldhouse.
Prep players from across the peninsula wanted desperately to play in the fieldhouse. The regional tournament was an EVENT.
Hedgcock was renovated in 2004 to accommodate student academic offices and programs. It no doubt was good for NMU and its students, but for high school and college basketball fans, it was a sad turn of events.
The Superior Dome offers a lot of parking, more than adequate restroom facilities and easy access to concessions.
It’s large. It has a permanent seating capacity of 8,000, although the building can hold as many as 16,000 spectators.
It’s primarily used for football, both NMU and prep tournament games. It also houses Northern and prep track and field events and youth soccer tournaments.
It has a retractable artificial turf carpet, which is amazing to watch when in operation.
The dome surface could house a basketball floor. It could be placed in the middle of the turf, with bleacher seating surrounding it, or near one end where it could be closed off to make a more intimate playing and viewing experience.
A basketball court could be kept in place in the dome for long periods of time during Northern’s men’s and women’s seasons instead of being installed and then removed several times like it is now at the BEC.
The Wildcat teams could even practice on the floor and have a true home court advantage.
Prep basketball teams would have a central place to play in regional tournament action instead of postseason play being spread all over the U.P. at high school venues.
There are a lot of people who don’t attend NMU basketball games because they don’t like watching the action in the BEC.
Housing basketball games in the dome is a radical idea and perhaps not even feasible.
But it’s an interesting thought, nevertheless.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org