It’s going to be a great night. The NCAA Men’s Basketball Sweet 16 visits Washington, DC at Capital One Arena with Duke, Virginia Tech, Michigan State and LSU all taking part this Friday and the winners then playing Sunday. There will be dunks, three-pointers, big plays and one can only hope, buzzer beaters after compelling, close games.
The Mid-Atlantic has been a popular host city for March Madness over the years, with Capital One Arena hosting seven times, Capital Centre in Landover, MD hosting once, and Cole Field House in College Park, MD playing host 10 different times. All of these tournaments have special memories, but as we head toward tonight’s Sweet 16, I’d like to call special attention to Cole Field House.
The historic basketball arena at the University of Maryland has seen incredible basketball through the years including Texas Western University (University of Texas El Paso today) landmark 1966 win over the Kentucky Wildcats in which the school became the first to start five African American players in NCAA Tournament games. It also served as the home arena for the University of Maryland’s 2002 NCAA Championship team. There are scores of other NCAA memories in the venue, too.
Interestingly, today, Cole Field House is being transformed from a historic NCAA Basketball venue into a leading-edge football training facility and multidisciplinary hub for sport, health, science, wellness and entrepreneurial education. The space where the basketball court used to be is now a full-size indoor football field with two outdoor fields, an advanced strength, conditioning and hydrotherapy center, locker rooms, team meeting spaces, coaches’ offices and athlete dining areas. The facility will also include a new Center for Sports Medicine, Health and Human Performance, an orthopedic clinical treatment center, and an Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to connect students with experiential learning opportunities to work across disciplines and launch innovative ideas, products and companies.
It’s an incredible transformation for a legacy building. And, as this year’s best basketball programs get set to thrill us with another year of Sweet 16 action, it’s fun to reflect. Few cities and regions are lucky enough to play host as often as the DC area has over time. Rarely does a facility touching so much sports history like Cole Field House become rejuvenated in such exciting ways.
I’m excited to see new memories and sports history in DC tonight.