January 3, 2014 at 6:31 pm #12872
I was on the official lehighsports.com site the other day and saw that Lehigh is currently fundraising for renovating (closer to rebuilding) the baseball and softball facilities, while also planning a large addition to the varsity house.
Does anyone know the last time any improvements were made to Stabler for the fans? And more importantly, does anyone think improvements like a video board and moving the blue seats closer to the floor would have any impact on attendance? Or any other changes for that matter?January 3, 2014 at 7:11 pm #12876
I’m never sure how these projects develop. I’m fairly certain that many begin with a large directed contribution by an alumnus et al and then they build a campaign around it. Others begin with the University and then they solicit money toward the campaign. I believe softball may have been the former and has been ongoing for several years.
Renovations to Stabler, although nice does not seem like enough of an enticement to lure basketball fans to Stabler at least past the short term. I have often wondered what the benefit/cost paradigm is with regard to Service Electric televising games live. On one hand, it promotes the sport and the University but on the other it becomes a reason to stay home especially in the winter. The PLN is a godsend for fans outside the area but does it keep fans, including students at home? I actually debated about whether to attend the game on Sunday or simply watch it with a beer and sandwich on CBS College Sports.
On a side note: Alice Gast announced that she is leaving the University to take on an equivalent job in London. Whatever your opinion of her, she was a true backer of athletics on campus. Let us hope that we find another President that has similar beliefs. I’ve seen what happens at Universities that lose their passion for sports.January 3, 2014 at 9:35 pm #12879
Preaching to the choir on this one. As mostly a football fan , I have been to 3 basketball games in Stabler. Welcome to our world and wonder why any of Lehigh’s venues should fall behind any other PL school???? A video board at Goodman since they will not consider lights IS a must.January 3, 2014 at 10:03 pm #12881
I obviously see the need for the baseball and softball improvements, and the varsity house addition should help all sports. Some well heeled wrestling supporters have stepped up and made those facilities comparable to anyone in the country with the Caruso Complex and renovated Grace Hall.
All that said, it certainly seems to me that both Goodman and Stabler are due for a refresh. Video board(s) in each, maybe some seating enhancements for both, and lights for Goodman. I’d also advocate for decreasing attendance at Stabler by taking out some seats for a reception or hospitality area for corporate groups or donors.January 3, 2014 at 10:22 pm #12882
Lights at Goodman is probably beyond reach. Lighting the stadium is not the issue. Lighting parking for a night football game with say 10,000 attending is impractical.
Improved scoreboard at Goodman worth discussion, Stabler has bigger needs IMO.January 3, 2014 at 10:50 pm #12883
If they can put up enough lights around Stabler and Lax field for night parking, 3-4 poles would be plenty for Goodman. Problem is that they would have to consolidate some of the parking areas.The only time the back gravel lots(and far grass fields) need to be used is Lafayette.If lighting the parking lots is the issue,then we are not the engineers I thought we are, a terrible excuse. The only games played at night would be September or early October. They use portable lights at major intersections and walkways at most schools…..Would break the 12:30 tradition is all.January 3, 2014 at 10:58 pm #12884
I’m glad most high schools don’t think Friday night games are impractical. What most involved don’t realize is that it would increase attendance and local support. Higher football revenue would also help other programs. Improve Goodman and the rest will follow.January 4, 2014 at 1:21 am #12886
I respectfully disagree. High schools hold their games on Friday nights so as not to compete with college games. Lafayette recently made huge renovations and added light and their average attendance other than vs Lehigh is about 4,700/game. Princeton built a behemoth stadium with lights in 1998 and averages about the same as Lehigh. Saturday night games will compete against a plethora of other activities both on and off campus and won’t add to the attendance.
Personally, I enjoy watching games at Goodman in the fall when you can actually the changing leaves on the trees. It’s warmer during the day, which gets more important every year :-), and I can tailgate prior to and after the game. It’s a wonderful game day atmosphere.
Does this mean I don’t favor renovations? No. I would love to see a new video scoreboard but it won’t attract more fans after the novelty wears off. It would simply be more entertaining for the fans who do show up.
By the way, my first priority though would be the audio system. Just my opinion.January 4, 2014 at 1:59 am #12887
Just a thought….the bigger question about Stabler Arena may be it’s relevance. It will soon be 35 years old. When it was built, it was designed to be a venue that could host numerous athletic, cultural and entertainment activities.
Over the last decade or so, Grace Hall was renovated and all but 2 wrestling matches are held there. Zoellner has become the home of the Arts for Lehigh. The State Theater, Symphony Hall, Steel Stacks and more recently The Sands are all in competition for cultural and entertainment dollars. By fall, the new Ice Hockey Arena will be ready which is designed to be multi-functional. Will Arena Football move there? Does it compete for high school graduations?
If Stabler is only going to function solely as a venue for Lehigh basketball, does it become more viable to build something smaller and closer to campus ala Bucknell? Just food for thought …nothing else.January 4, 2014 at 3:16 am #12892
Improvements will have zero impact on attendance. Cultural changes and televised games are the main reason attendance sucks. Stabler is a very nice venue our size of basketball program. Yes, a video board would be nice at both Stabler and Goodman. However, lights for Goodman is out of the question due to $$$. Not the stadium, but the entire area. All of the tailgating areas on dark Saturday night scream of liability issues. Lafayette has no open areas like we do. Most people walk or park on the streets of the City. As noted by someone else, Princeton as the best FCS stadium in the country with lights and gets 7,000/game. It’s a different mind set at PL and IL schools today than when we ‘matricuated’…January 4, 2014 at 4:14 am #12894
As this thread has moved more toward the basketball attendance issue, I’d like to agree and disagree with ngineer. Improvements would do little to improve attendance, but TV games and cultural changes are not the problem in my opinion. Tradition has a lot to do with it. We are a historically losing program of epic irrelevance in Pa.’s 3rd largest metro that has been a hotbed of high school football and wrestling. Plus there are a zillion things to do around here considering the proximity of NYC and Philly. Lehigh’s basketball success is fairly recent. Those are the main reasons for poor local support. If we keep winning, recruiting the likes of Knutson’s and Mccollum’s and Kempton’s, and the league continues to improve, over time the crowd’s will continue to gradually improve.
I agree we have a big old barn and that an arena like Quinipiac or Bucknell would be nicer, but Stabler’s easy to get to since the Parkway went in, has plenty of parking & cheap admission. And I truly enjoy the games in person versus TV. You can see up close how big and talented these kids are at the Patriot league level. An on campus venue would improve student attendance, which is important, but south side Bethlehem streets are tougher for parking and access and I doubt it would improve regional support without continuing to improve the product on the court.January 4, 2014 at 4:22 am #12895
And a note on the baseball field….I’ve umpired on both the Lehigh and DeSales college baseball fields. We look like a shabby old Division 3 facility in comparison. I don’t know how a coach recruits division 1 players with our field situation. The baseball program really does need help.January 4, 2014 at 2:20 pm #12904
I’m inclined to agree that consistent and improving performance of the team will do the most for improving attendance. But I wonder about convenience for students. I haven’t been back in quite a while – but is there something that could be done to make it more convenient? More bus runs, or more convenient pickup and drop-off spots on main campus? For example, does the bus to Stabler stop on the hill?January 4, 2014 at 9:58 pm #12913
As it relates to the discussion of local interest in our basketball program, here’s Lehigh’s historic basketball tradition versus bball traditions at the rest of the Patriot League…… from a USA Today sports statistics website, these all time records for league members….
Note that they seem to have a few additional wins/losses for us, perhaps games undocumented by NCAA standards…..
Team Wins Loss Win % Total Games
HOLY C 1326 898 0.596 2224
NAVY 1311 971 0.574 2282
BUCKNE 1330 1162 0.534 2492
LAFAYT 1270 1159 0.523 2429
BOSTON 996 954 0.511 1950
AMERICN 666 662 0.502 1328
ARMY 1152 1158 0.499 2310
COLGATE 1192 1309 0.477 2501
LOYOLA 732 831 0.468 1563
LEHIGH 1012 1336 0.431 2348
TOTALS 10987 10440 0.513 21427January 5, 2014 at 9:42 pm #12924
Some thoughts, though you may think I’m nuts … :
I think one main reason Bucknell does not recruit better is it’s in the middle of nowhere. It’s athletic facilties have two KEY things going for them: a) they’re top notch (football could be improved, but they’ve not developed a fan base yet they’ve been losers so long) b) they’re 5 minutes from anywhere on campus.
As great an area as LU’s sports complex is — yes, Stabler has become dated — nothing like the Bucknell arena, which is first class — it’s too inconvenient for students to get to. (I said that until I had access to cars and I still hear it.) Taylor and Grace Hall were WAY easier.
(Sure there are buses, but … )
I think LU should trade some of the land it was bequeathed in Saucon Valley and sell/trade it for land on the south side where it could build at least a turf field for students to play pick up games (soccer, flag football, ultimate Frisbee, etc.) Soccer has become a huge sport with Americans and the increasing number of internationals and the students have no good place to play — easily.
The Sayre fields are a joke and tough to get to. Even if you can get to the valley, there often are club teams using LU fields — so they’re off-limits to students at certain times.
Maybe the athletics department has done studies on attendance, but I think there are some long-term implications:
— Increased academic standards, co-education and international students. The Chinese internationals I know are here for one thing: studying. The campus, much like our country, is becoming less homogeneous (I’m not whining about that at all, but I think it affects football, wrestling and men’s basketball attendance.)
— In the 1950s, freshmen were required to attend football games; I’m told wearing their beanies. At some places today — military academies, including VMI, students must attend.
— Tons of other things to do, not to mention the Internet
— Relative difficulty getting to and from the valley campus on your time schedule
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