Success has been great to the Stuart C. Siegel Center. After opening on May 1, 1999, “The Stu” set relatively unchanged for 12 years before VCU’s magical 2011 Final 4 run and an athletics administration determined to take advantage of that success/momentum, started really tricking out the big gray box.
After a decade of no major changes, VCU invested millions in the Stu in less than half that time. The summer of 2011 saw the Siegel Center’s biggest change in the form of Siegel Center office renovations and a Tommy J. West club luxury area.
Three years later, VCU spent another $1.9 million on renovations including a massive Daktronics center-hung scoreboard, an upgraded sound system, new LED ribbons and added corner corporate suites.
VCU Athletic’s added a $25 million Basketball Development Center just behind the Siegel Center (originally plans called for a smaller, less expensive practice facility attached to the Stu) and have been on a roll in terms of maintaining momentum and taking VCU from a Cinderella program to a legit national contender, making VCU basketball one of the nation’s 40 most valuable programs as determined by a recent Wall Street Journal study.
By why stop there?
Below is my wish list for the Siegel Center, three things that I think will continue to take the Rams’ home court from good to great.
MARSHALL STREET EXPANSION
This should be VCU’s next BIG project, one that would easily have the biggest impact on VCU’s game day experience. The Rams have sold out every single home contest since hosting UNCW in a homecoming game on Jan 29, 2011 (meaning five consecutive seasons of non-stop sellouts). That sellout streak has resulted in a season ticket waiting list, increased ticket prices and a somewhat changing demographic at VCU games –meaning more corporate fans and with that, paid for, but sometimes empty seats…and certainly less “rowdy” seats. I think those are necessary evils. We all want VCU to be the best program it can be. We want to compete with the big boys, but in order to do so, realistically you gotta spend like the big boys and that means increased ticket prices, donation levels, and so forth. VCU’s ticket demand helps VCU Athletics pay for all the things Ram fans want, the things that bring prized recruits, the things that help keep VCU nationally relevant without the luxury of BCS football revenue to carry the team. With that said, I think VCU is at a point where they need to seriously consider Siegel Center expansion to make room for all fans, not just the ones that can pony up a $1,000 minimum donation level before they are even allowed the privilege of purchasing their season tickets.
Long story short, VCU Ram Nation has outgrown a 7,600-seat facility. The Siegel Center’s best longterm expansion option is to blow out the back wall to extend the Marshall side seating to increase capacity by at least 1,000 seats, increasing capacity to allow Ram Nation a chance to see VCU’s attendance average reach top-50 or even top-40 level nationally (top-50 meaning 9,000+, top-40 needing about 10,000+ to do it). And those aren’t garbage seats either. Sideline seats, even ones higher are, are often the first to be claimed with season ticket purchasing or reseating, which is why my season ticket-holding family has seen their seats pushed further and further into the corners.
Wish list item No.1 was my most expensive and biggest longterm item. Wish list item No.2 is pretty much the exact opposite.
If you’ve never wandered onto opposing fans message boards you’ve never heard the Siegel Center’s derogatory nickname: The Costco Center. The reality is the Siegel Center is better than most A-10 conference facilities, but to be honest, it does have a very warehouse/Costco feel to it, with giant gray walls and warehouse style lighting. There’s a very simple and cost-effective fix to this: wall graphics.
If you’ve ever visited or even seen pictures of VCU’s Basketball Development Center you’ve seen how they’ve attacked this problem by basically covering EVERY large wall section with killer graphics (see attached examples). There are MANY walls within the Stu that could benefit this, from the concourse/concessions areas to sections under the expanding bleachers.
Ask yourself this: Have you or anyone you know ever taken a picture next two one of the brown VCU “Hall of Fame” plaques in the Siegel Center concourse? If you answered no ask yourself this: Would you take a picture of you or your kids standing in front of a massive Treveon Graham wall graphic like the ones inside VCU’s new practice facility?
I know I would.
I will also volunteer to raise the funds for that project and guarantee I could have everything paid for long before next season even thought about starting.
Another simple fix and one I ASSUME VCU has experimented with over the years, but to me, the massive amount of what I think is unnecessary lighting inside the Siegel Center, particularly around the perimeter of the interior concourse (does that make sense? the areas outside the railings on the inside of the Stu…the “walkways”, if you will), reminds me of old shopping trips with former girlfriends at Forever 21. It is insanely bright inside the Siegel Center, which I think takes away from the game atmosphere and also looks bad in pictures. The recessed can lighting in those areas seems utterly pointless to me, especially with VCU’s new center scoreboard and LED ribbons brightening up the joint.
Hit the dimmer on the babies so we can stop wearing our tanning goggles to the games.
TELL US WHAT WOULD BE ON YOUR WISH LIST
Agree or disagree with my list? Have a few wishes of your own? Hit our our free forum to join the discussion currently in progress! https://forums.vcuramnation.com/threads/your-siegel-center-wish-list.16031/