The Tommies basketball and volleyball teams have finally found the new arena they’ve been looking for. It just so happens to be down the hill.
The team will relinquish the South Gym and move to the Lady Beaverbrook Gym which became vacant when the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds moved into the new Currie Centre.
“It’s a huge boost to our programs,” St. Thomas University athletic director Mike Eagles said.
The move will take effect immediately meaning all regular season homes game this year in both sports will be played at the LB Gym.
Eagles say STU expressed interest in moving their programs to the LB Gym about a year or so ago. Last week, UNB officials called and the details were ironed out.
“They approached us last week and we jumped on the opportunity because we knew it would be better for the fan experience,” said Eric Moffatt, who is the athletics coordinator at St. Thomas.
With the move, Eagles expects to build a fan base outside of just family and friends of the athletes involved.
“It gives us more ability to expand our audience and reach out to more people. Maybe we can reach out more into the community and create a bigger fan base,” he said.
The LB Gym features both bleachers and seats for fans. This is a vast upgrade over the South Gym where plastic chairs were provided for fans. It also created difficulty in viewing the action as the fans were sat on one level at the South Gym, which won’t be the case at the LB Gym.
“It will certainly allow our fans to be more comfortable,” said fourth year women’s basketball player Kathleen McCann. “The bleachers and stands make it so everyone can see the game, as opposed to the chair set up at the South Gym.”
Over recent years, the South Gym has had its problems. The court surface is damaged, the lighting was indifferent, and there would be times the roof would leak when there was heavy rain.
“One thing for sure was that it wasn’t going to go away and get any better,” Eagles said.
McCann agrees, adding that it’s pleasing the team will be getting a better facility.
“It’s a big upgrade facility wise and I think it’s a more appropriate gym for university level basketball,” she said.
Eagles says that while the LB Gym may not necessarily help improve recruiting, he says it won’t harm it like the South Gym had in the past with the flaws it had.
Although the teams will play their games at the LB Gym, they will continue to practice at the South Gym. According to Moffatt, they will practice Monday through Thursday at the South Gym, before practicing Friday at the LB Gym.
The LB Gym, like the South Gym, is owned by UNB. As of right now there are no plans to change the appearance of the LB Gym, which has UNB court decal and red seats.
Although many people have fond memories of the South Gym, Eagles sees the move to the LB Gym as a critical move to improving the programs involved.
“From a long term view and growth of the program, the LB gym, far and away, is the place we’ve got to be.”
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