Dave Reid

Bring the Panthers Back to Campus

By - Mar 10th, 2010 09:46 am
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UW-Milwaukee

UW-Milwaukee

There’s often talk regarding whether UWM is a commuter campus or not, and although it still has numerous commuter students, UWM has been evolving into a full blown campus environment for years.  This change has stirred up East Side residents and put a greater demand on the neighborhood, but Milwaukee’s future is closely tied to UWM’s future so this evolution needs to be embraced, not challenged.

Part of this evolution is actually a strong athletic program.  Regardless if the emphasis on athletics at institutions of higher learn is good or not, it’s true.  The public face of a university is its athletic program.  When people think Ohio State they think football.  When people think North Carolina they think basketball.  Although UWM won’t realistically ever reach those lofty levels, athletics play a role, so much so that some schools have increased enrollment after NCAA Tourney appearances.  Simply, a successful athletic program could lead to more national recognition, increased alumni giving, increased exposure potential students, and in the long run help raise enrollment.

A first, albeit small step, in building a strong athletic program would be to return men’s basketball to campus by building a new on campus arena.  The construction of a new arena would send a clear signal that the school is committed to athletics, and strengthen the bond between school and student.  Just the ability for students to walk to the game, attend pep rallys, and events on campus will create a better student experience and lead to higher involvement.

Certainly, there are potential issues, such as the availability of land, how to fund the construction, the real or perceived issue of the lack of parking, and the U.S. Cellular Arena becoming even less utilzed.  But a growing UWM is good for all of Milwaukee and building a new on campus arena would be one, small step that UWM could take to continue growing.

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10 thoughts on “Bring the Panthers Back to Campus”

  1. Jesse Hagen says:

    I’m not convinced that the main campus would be ideal for this. Is the plan to tear up more of Downer Woods?

    Anyway, moving this closer to campus could be a huge benefit to the athletics program, student involvement, and spur additional development.

    I would love to see this on/near North Ave, a new stadium should be built where the Maryland street school is:

    http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Milwaukee,+Wisconsin+53202&ll=43.061481,-87.883458&spn=0.003167,0.008969&t=h&z=17

  2. Tracy says:

    Several issues here.

    Not too long ago UWM mens BB games were held on campus. Many students from the residence halls still did not attend, even with the first apparences in the NCAA and NIT tourneys. Rather, the majority of students who made up the Klotche Krazies (student Section) were those invovled in Student Government and other student organizations (an area the Unviersity has never given much support or devolpment too, but thats another article). While there was a solid corp of alumni that attended games, the location of games does not seem to matter (the same alumni go to the US Cellular as they did the Klotsche center.)

    I do see some benefit to bringing games back to campus, if the plan is to enhance the current arena. However, building a new arena is not congruent with the current campus master plan (http://www4.uwm.edu/master_plan/planning_materials/draft-plan.cfm). Further, the recent trend in student housing has been increasing the focus of student life and activity around North Ave, rather than campus (not by design, but a secondary result anyway).

    Students have no issues going places that cost money and are located off campus, as evidenced by the large student populations on North Ave, Water st, Old World 3rd, and Bayshore Town center during either semester – however game attendance (free to students) is still low. It will take an energetic coach and an above mediocre year to net more student interest. In the near future, all this will net is $25 a semester from the students.

  3. Dave Reid says:

    @Tracy Certainly building a winning program is needed to increase attendance, but facilities play a role in recruiting, and attendance.

  4. Tracy says:

    @ Dave I agree. I think UWM has seen some benefit from their recent additions (Klotsche Pavilion, Residence Halls).
    I would hope that the decision comes to updating the original Klotsche arena rather than building something new. On the flip side, it would be great to see a new arena that utilizes some beautiful green architecture! I am just not sure if now is the right time.

  5. Let me guess…. Next you will want us to pay for the choo-choo to go to the campus to bring in fans, since there is no parking in the area.

  6. Dave Reid says:

    @Patrick.. choo-choo no.. Streetcar yes. But we’ve long advocated for that.

    As far as the arena it is my understanding it would be financed with student fees and fund raising. And possibly actually save the school money.

    PS Also I did want to say welcome to UrbanMilwaukee.com Patrick.

  7. Peter says:

    @Tracy the Master Plan is not yet finalized. The most recent draft illustrates the Klotsche being expanded, but they probably won’t release the final draft until they A) know whether they want a new arena or to stick with expanding the Klotsche B) finalize their plans on the County Grounds and C) finalize their plans for the new Freshwater school. I’m actually super excited to see the final draft and can’t wait till it’s out.

    Also, the $25 student fee per semester will yield about $1.5mil per year. I’m not saying that isn’t a decent amount of cash, but I’m wondering how much they are planning on spending on this facility. I certainly don’t expect them to build a Kohl Center, but in comparison, Wiki states that it cost over $76mil to build (all donated, obviously). That was also built twelve years ago. It would take 25 years to pay off building something even half as nice/big as that, using 1998 dollars. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if they’re going to do this, I hope they have enough funds to make it a relevant, inviting, and somewhat unique facility. Do it right or don’t waste your money. They stated they want the arena to be 6,000-8,000 seats, which I believe is a great size for us. I just don’t want to see some generic, poor excuse for a field house. Take a look at some of the new buildings around campus and you’ll know why I’m a little worried.

  8. In the 7 years I attended UWM I guess I never noticed that basketball was missing… or was there, or whatever. Of course, I commuted, so maybe that’s why…

  9. Jeff Jordan says:

    I agree, like it or not, a top notch athletic program is helpful in building the reputation of a first class University, as much as most of realize that the real value of the University comes from what it produces academically. I do have my doubts about UWM needing an on campus stadium to accomplish that goal.
    Forget about my continuing concerns for the neighborhood, the quality of life issues for long term residents and my desire to see more permanent residents fill the void in the rapidly shrinking student rental market. I don’t like a new stadium for three reasons. UWM doesn’t have the room, the money or the basketball program to justify moving the team from downtown and building the stadium isn’t going to get them any of those things.
    What they need is a Basketball program. Can they compete with UW Madison & Marquette? Evidently they can. Two coaches from the Horizon League went to Madison and were very successful. and Bruce Pearl is doing very well at national powerhouse, Tennessee. UWM’s problem is they, and other schools in the Horizon League can’t hang on to top coaches.. For coaches, the league is a spring board to better opportunities. Until that changes, no stadium is going to do anything for UWM basketball. By the way this argument surfaces in Green Bay about every four years or so, when attendance is down.

  10. Jerad says:

    As a UWM student I would love to see this happen. Lets face it, new arenas are hyped and initially bring in more fans. Whether or not higher attendance continues would be up to the quality that the program provides.

    @Tracy: I think that the nature of UWM becoming less and less of a commuter school in the past 5 years would translate to higher attendance at games on an on-campus arena than it did around 2000-2002. I also believe the environment of a smaller arena which would appear much fuller would add to the desirability of it.

    As for concerns with neighboring residents, I feel like they should embrace this. There are many families with children in the area and to have the option of attending a college basketball game (for a relatively cheap price compared to larger colleges/professional teams) within walking distance would be a big draw.

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