Unless he is actually on the Georgetown men’s basketball team, you would be hard-pressed to find someone on campus who came to Georgetown strictly for basketball. Yet when I decided that I wanted to come to the Hilltop for college, I have to admit that I was most excited to be part of a school that was steeped in such a rich basketball tradition.
Before first coming to the Hilltop, when I heard “Georgetown,” I thought of basketball. I pictured Patrick Ewing slamming it home, Dikembe Mutombo wagging his finger and Otto Porter Jr. being drafted third overall in the 2013 NBA Draft. I couldn’t wait to go to Verizon Center and be in the midst of that crazy student section I only saw before on TV. Even though I knew this was going to be a rebuilding year and that we weren’t playing Syracuse, I was sweating with anticipation before leaving for my first ever Georgetown game. I wanted to chant the fight song, scream “Hoya Saxa!” and be a part of something that is so much bigger than just sports. I wanted all of that, and then I got none of it.
To put it bluntly, my first basketball game sucked. The arena was practically empty and no one was screaming. I even got dirty looks from the kids sitting around me for shouting whenever we made a good play. Even though I didn’t have the experience I was expecting, I chalked it up to being the first game of the year against a no-name school and decided to wait before I passed judgment. Then, the same thing happened at the next game, and the next game and the game after that until we finally got into Big East play — and even then, nothing really improved.
Honestly, I didn’t know what to make of it. Every game there were a few more seats filled, and Verizon Center was a little louder, but still there just wasn’t that exciting college basketball atmosphere I expected.
Arenas like Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse and Duke’s Cameron Stadium are cathedrals of college basketball. They are small, loud and filled to capacity. They vibrate with intensity, and there is never a silent moment. We don’t have that. We need a stadium to call our own like New Mexico has The Pit, Butler has Hinkle Fieldhouse and — dare I say it — Syracuse has the Carrier Dome.
Georgetown is an amazing school for basketball with a tradition that competes with any other university, but we don’t have the arena or the fans to match.
First of all, we should not need to take a bus and a train to get to the games. I’m not saying that we should start playing in McDonough, but instead of building a new athletic center, Georgetown should fundraise to replace McDonough with a brand new Georgetown Arena, where both the men’s and women’s teams can make timeless basketball moments right here on campus. We need an arena that we can be proud of and that takes only five minutes to walk to instead of that 40-minute journey across town. We need an arena where we can build new traditions and that we can fill to the brim, instead of playing in a borrowed NBA center that we cannot sincerely call our own.
Verizon Center has served Georgetown and served it well, but it is time to make a stadium that belongs to us. These are the halls of Jeff Green and the classrooms of Roy Hibbert. This is the alma mater of Allen Iverson, so let’s get an arena that says so. I know that Verizon Center is where all of these greats played, and it probably will be the men’s team’s home for years to come, but I look forward to the day when I can come back to Georgetown as an alumnus and watch a basketball game on campus, in our own cathedral, overflowing with thousands of screaming students that are proud to say “we are Georgetown.”
JOSHUA DOSTAL is a freshman in the College.