Claremore Daily Progress

Sports Columnists

March 25, 2012

JOHNSON: NSU's new Fieldhouse a welcome addition

TAHLEQUAH — Northeastern State’s basketball programs are about to get a huge boost. As a matter of fact, so is all of Tahlequah and Cherokee County.

After drawn-out discussions and lengthy deliberating, Northeastern State is set to begin construction on a new event center. The new arena will not only give the local and area athletic communities a shot in the arm, but it will also be a welcome addition to those who are fans of everything from fairs to forums.

Yet, with no name attached to it right now, the new event center can simply be known as The Crown Jewel of Cherokee County.

“It’ll be a great centerpiece for the university and northeast Oklahoma,” NSU men’s basketball coach Larry Gipson said.

While Tahlequah and Sequoyah house outstanding indoor athletic facilities (the TMAC at Tahlequah and The Place Where They Play at Sequoyah), NSU’s new basketball arena — which will occupy a permanent seating capacity of 3,000 — will likely double those in size. It will also feature the amenities of other premier college venues: a video screening room, countless numbers of offices for athletic coaches and an athletics shop for those need green and white apparel.

While NSU faithful will likely only get geared up for RiverHawk basketball games in the new facility, I have high hopes for other sporting events.

For instance, with the digs, NSU could host national sporting events in volleyball, wrestling or basketball.

When the NSU women’s basketball team was ranked No. 1 in the South Central Regional rankings in March of 2011, there was some question as to whether Jack Dobbins Field House — the current home of RiverHawk basketball — was large enough to host an event involving eight schools. It was — but barely.

That question will not be a topic of conversation if either NSU basketball team is up for hosting such an event again.

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