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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.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Fans could attend Horizon League Tournament at the O’rena

It had long been speculated Oakland could possibly be excluded from the Horizon because of a minimum-seating requirement for basketball venues set at 5,000 seats. Oakland’s O’rena, as you may know, has a capacity of 3,000 seats, but can be stretched to nearly 4,000 with the help of standing-room only admission.
Oakland director of athletics Tracy Huth addressed the stipulation early in his presentation to the Board of Trustees Tuesday, saying the school will apply to the conference seeking leniency through a waiver. Huth was confident the Horizon would grant such a request, but noted a backup plan is in place for Oakland to play its conference games at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Another intriguing factor unfathomable in the Summit League, is the possibility Oakland could host conference tournament games at the O’rena.
The Horizon tournament plays opening-round games at the site of the higher-seeded team, with semifinals moving to the home court of the No. 1 seed. The championship game is then played on the home floor of the highest-seeded remaining team.
“It will be a packed house and we’ll pack them in,” Huth said of the possibility. “You’re probably not going to find a more exciting venue to play in. That’s an attractive thing. If you look at the numbers of the conference tournaments, whether it’s on the men’s or women’s side, some of the bigger conferences have great attendance, but attendance is an issue at those conference tournaments, so the ability to pack the place to the rafters and to give your students the ability and fans the opportunity here, that’s a great thing. It will be great whether we’re playing here or Valpo, or (wherever).”
Oakland had previously pitched a joint bid with Palace Sports and Entertainment to host the Summit League tournament at The Palace, but the plans were scrapped because The Palace was already obligated to host Disney on Ice.
Likely an afterthought to the reduction in conference travel, potentially having a home crowd to cheer them during a conference tournament game is another welcoming thought to joining the Horizon League.

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