KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Home court advantage had a different feel this year for East Tennessee State University's basketball teams.
Three men's games and one women's game were played at Freedom Hall; it's a move Athletic Director Richard Sander calls 'an experiment'.
The change of venues, even for four games, allowed ETSU to make a 'to-do' list of changes that would need to be made if the games at Freedom Hall were to continue, including changes to elements like equipment and signage.
There are also some things fans brought to light, like seating assignments for donors and season ticket holders. "We asked our fans to give us feedback and I think they were very honest and straightforward about their feedback. We felt very good about that, but I think the majority of the people really enjoyed the experience," adds Sander.
Some of the Freedom Hall games were played while students were on Thanksgiving break. However, some students still have an opinion about the venue change. "I think it'd be nicer in the Mini-dome just because it's here and it's where they have been playing, but if they can't I guess you've got to work with what you've got," says ETSU student Ashley Eversfield.
Junior Thomas Cook went to a game at Freedom Hall and he has been to one in the Mini-dome. We asked him to compare the two venues. "It was really neat in each of the places. I personally like the dome better, just because it was here on ETSU's campus and it kind of makes sense to have the basketball team here play on campus," he told us.
Playing more games at Freedom Hall may be unavoidable. We've learned a roofing project set for next summer at the Mini-dome may require the teams go elsewhere, at least until the project is complete.
We asked the athletic director what would happen with the mini-dome if basketball moved to Freedom Hall full-time. He says the venue would make a great indoor practice facility for all athletics at the college.