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Drew Ellis covers Oakland University basketball for The Oakland Press. His news and notes keep you up to date with Golden Grizzlies men's basketball.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

O'rena touch-ups include rearranging banners

The campus at Oakland University was getting fixed up here and there to prepare for the CNBC Republican Debate last Wednesday. The debate was also a good excuse to shuffle the order of the men's and women's teams' Summit League championship and NCAA tournament banners. They were stowed away during the debate, as fans may have noticed, and then arranged by classification, i.e. NCAA banners together, with the heavy equipment the university otherwise wouldn't have had a need for. 
“I wanted to change the order of them anyway and it turned out good,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. “If they want to put the cameras up there to show the banners, all the NCAA banners and Summit tournament banners are all together instead of chronological order."
Security around campus was tight all day Wednesday and the basketball teams weren't allowed to use the facilities for a week leading up to the event.
"We got great attention," Kampe said, noting Oakland's popularity in Google searches last week. "The O’rena looked phenomenal on TV and the university looked great. It was a real success and I’m very happy about it.”
The arena, opened in Nov. 1998, got some TLC such as a coat of shimmering finish on the stairs of the main stands. 
“They really spiced up the building. They did a lot of painting ... the building is 13 years old, so it was in need of some of that. So it was good. The timing was perfect," Kampe said. 
The University was even displayed prominently in the opening of "Saturday Night Live" last night.
The O'rena will be ready for its next spotlight, Nov. 28, as ESPN comes to Rochester for the first time. Fans will have their first chance to see the results of the makeover beginning Nov. 25, when the Golden Grizzlies play five straight games on campus.
 Attendance records are expected to be broken when Tennessee visits, leaving some to wonder if the O'rena could ever be expanded. 
"(That) can’t be done, Kampe said. “We looked into it and it cannot be expanded. The pool is on one side and the framework would not allow for it.
“If we wanted to do something, we either have to play at The Palace or build an 8,000 seat arena."
Sounds like the spiffed up O'rena will remain home to the Grizzlies for a while. 


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