Breaking away

Published 8:47 pm Wednesday, March 3, 2010

With Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the new Trojan Arena, a new home for Troy basketball is now on the way.

The facility, expected to be completed in time for the 2011-12 basketball season, will seat 5,200 people, an increase from the current Trojan Arena’s capacity of 4,000.

Even though the capacity will be increased, the new Trojan Arena will be the second smallest arena in the Sun Belt in terms of capacity.

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Despite the relatively small capacity, Troy head coach Don Maestri said the new arena will provide the Trojan basketball program with everything it needs to attract recruits.

“This is not about size,” Maestri said. “It doesn’t have to be an 8,000 or 9,000-seat arena like some of the other teams in this conference. This will be about class, but it will certainly have all the bells and whistles we are going to need.”

Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins, Jr., said recruiting was definitely a reason for the approval and construction of the new arena.

“You can’t win at any level unless you recruit athletes to represent your program well,” Hawkins said. “The architects and the planning committee have guaranteed that this facility will have all the bells and whistles necessary to bring those athletes to Troy.”

Some of the “bells and whistles” include offices and locker rooms for men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and men’s and women’s track, as well as 10,000 square-feet of basketball practice court space.

“When we walk a kid in, he is going to be impressed with what we have here, and we won’t have to worry about the other teams in this league anymore,” Maestri said.

That added advantage in recruiting could be the nudge the Troy basketball program needs to reach perennial conference contender status.

“We strive to be the best in everything we do, and this facility will help us to accomplish that goal,” said Troy athletic director Steve Dennis.

However, not all of the extra features will be focused on student-athletes.

“The aesthetic value is just going to be amazing,” Maestri said. “We have the video ribbon that goes all the way around the top, which is something nobody else in this league has. It’s going to be able to be real showtime.”

Maestri said the excitement of having a true modern facility should have a direct impact on attendance.

“I think you’re going to see larger crowds, more excitement, and I think basketball will really become more of an event here. People are going to want to come to the games,” Maestri said.

With all the excitement surrounding the new arena, it may have been former Trojan Leon Davis who summed it up best.

“With this new facility and Don Maestri and David Felix at the helm, there are nothing but good things in store,” Davis said.