Ten years from now, the increasingly cramped, undersized home of Harvard’s basketball teams will be a thing of the past. As University officials recently announced, a new basketball facility is a large element of its new Institutional Master Plan for Allston. With projected development between 2017 and 2022, the new arena will replace a building that predates the Great Depression and the site of Harvard basketball games for more than a quarter century. Constructing a replacement for Lavieties Pavilion is a much-needed move, one that will pay dividends to the teams, campus community, and the Allston cityscape.
In the years following Coach Tommy Amaker’s hiring, our men’s basketball team has dramatically improved in performance. Achieving its first berth to the NCAA tournament in 66 years last season, our team has exceeded those of nearly every generation preceding it in quality of play. Although the size of our arena should not be a function of a one team’s success, we cannot ignore the historic level of performance on the part of our Men’s squad. The higher profile of our team, and the accompanying spike in interest, has only made more urgent what has been long overdue for the Ivy League’s second smallest basketball arena.
With a student seating section of about 400, only a fraction of the undergraduate population can physically attend home games. This situation has proven especially problematic to students over the last year, as nearly every home game sold out in the arena. Limited capacity and frenzied interest have combined to force fans to sit out games while driving up prices for tickets on the resale market to unreasonable levels. Not every home game is televised, leaving interested students unable to participate in what should be as inclusive an experience as possible. A new arena will help address these concerns, while feeding the campus spirit that is an indelible element of any thriving college community.
Also worth noting is the fact that constructing a new facility will economically benefit the Allston neighborhood. Like every construction project, building a new arena will lead to the hiring (or retention) of many local workers. On the other side of the coin, once developed, the arena will help fill some of the space that has for so long remained vacant. Along with the other buildings slated for construction in the area, the arena should help beautify the currently stagnant plot of land that Harvard has failed to completely develop.
In short, with a new stadium, everybody wins.