It’s pretty clear that when it comes to hosting sporting events, the NCAA likes Cleveland’s style.
Having hosted multiple men’s and women’s basketball tournament rounds and gearing up for the 2018 wrestling championships, there was little doubt that Cleveland State, in collaboration with the MAC and the Cleveland Sports Commission, would bid for more.
The good news is that the NCAA has obliged, announcing that the 2020 opening rounds of the men’s basketball tournament will be hosted at Quicken Loans Arena. Also, men’s and women’s fencing will make its way to the Wolstein Center in 2019 for its championships, as will Division II wrestling, with nearby Ashland University serving as the host.
While this is obviously good news for the city, which continues to raise its profile in terms of hosting events, the Wolstein Center bids in particular should raise at least a question or two at CSU.
But first, let it not be said that the NCAA is without a sense of irony, awarding Cleveland State the championships of a sport (fencing) that far and away receives the least amount of funding in the athletics budget.
The source of the questions resides within the Wolstein Center itself. The debate over the arena’s future has raged on for years, and it appeared that there might be some movement. As recently as September, CSU was taking bids that would replace the Wolstein Center with a smaller arena, coupled with dormitory that would house up to 1,000 students.
With that kind of activity going on, you’d think that Cleveland State would be well on its way to making this upcoming basketball season that last one at the Wolstein Center.
And yet, the arena that costs CSU at least $1 million per year in losses will be around at least until the end of the fencing championships.
You must wonder how this conversation went between athletic director Mike Thomas and president Ronald Berkman.
Thomas: Dr. Berkman, I’ve got great news! Cleveland State is hosting the opening rounds of the men’s basketball tournament at the Q in 2020!
Berkman: Outstanding, even though I’m not really sure they’ll be done with their renovations by then. Oh well. I’ll let Len Komoroski figure that one out. We get anything else?
Thomas: As a matter of fact, we did. We’re going to have the Division II Wrestling championships at the Wolstein Center, plus men’s and women’s fencing.
Berkman: Fencing, fencing. Isn’t that one of our sports?
Thomas: Well, yeah, but we don’t give them much to run it.
Berkman: Oh, okay. When is that all taking place?
Berkman: That will be a nice way to send me off into retirement…Wait a second, I thought we were going to knock down the Wolstein Center.
Thomas: I guess you were, but there was this note on my desk from John Parry that I originally thought was list of sports to cut. Fencing was on there and it said 2019, so I guessed that’s when he wanted to cut it. I’m not changing anything, so I threw it away three weeks ago.
Berkman: Well, great. Now I have to tell the architect to hold off on the building plans and see if a megachurch will rent the arena out as a back-up. Thanks a lot!
While I’m sure the actual conversation between Berkman and Thomas went a little differently, the glee that is being publicly displayed by CSU amid the NCAA announcement has to be tempered by a bit of trepidation. After all, Berkman really, really wanted to do something with the Wolstein Center before he retired, and now he’s not going to get that chance.
Image courtesy of Cleveland State University