In Good Hands With Morgan Burke

It’s been officially decided – Purdue’s plan to build a new basketball arena in 2025 has been put on hold. Wait, what? Yes, you read that right – the school had a plan in place to use Mackey Arena until that time and then build a new $300 million arena, at a time when arenas could cost who-knows-what amount. Perhaps the idea was to generate excitement and make Mackey tickets a must-have, sort of like seeing a game at Yankee Stadium before they move out.

Anyway, that plan has been scrapped and instead Mackey will undergo more than $80 million worth of renovations. Presumably these renovations might include seats with backs to them and a video board. You know, to get up to 1980s standards, at least.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Mackey. But it’s definitely time to spruce the place up.

Morgan Burke, Purdue’s athletic director may have overstated Mackey’s historical significance a bit when he said, "To build a brand new facility you lose the history and the tradition of this building. You have a 40-year brand that is known all over the globe. It added up to us."

Yes, when children in Nepal heard of the planned new arena in 18 years, they went on a hunger strike. Known all over the globe indeed.

Burke went on to compare the facelifted Mackey to Camden Yards in Baltimore, saying that Mackey “could become the Camden Yards of college basketball arenas.” Except, presumably, that it wouldn’t be an open-air stadium and would continue to have hardwood and not grass. But otherwise, just like Camden Yards.

Interestingly, the expected seating capacity of the revised Mackey will drop, from 14,123 to roughly 13,300.

The only downside to this project, which is expected to take place over the next five years, is that it puts an indefinite hold on the Ross-Ade Stadium renovations going on across the street. Phase 2, as its known, would entail putting a second level over the East stands of the Stadium. And it’s on hold because of the arena renovations.

"You're not going to do the deck during this five-year period. You just can't," athletic director Morgan Burke said.

I don’t really understand why he’s speaking in the second person like that, but it’s neither here nor there, I guess.

Burke has consistently said he would prefer the football team's season ticket base reach 50,000 before adding the deck.

Yes, Morgan, well, we’d like a football team with national significance and a few ten-win seasons. Tell you what, I’m sure if you provide that, your season ticket goal will be easily reached.

What I don’t quite get is the point of this desired deck to go over the East stands. According to the article, it would seat about 8,500. Then they’d remove the bleachers from the South end zone, which seat 7,000, leaving a net increase of 1,500 seats. Really? Our goal is to go from 62,500 capacity to 64,000?

In the meantime, the Mackey Arena project will benefit the football program.

The Boilermakers currently have two outdoor practice fields adjacent to the Mollenkopf Athletic Center, one that's 100 yards long and another that stretches only 70 yards.

To make room for parts of the arena project, two side-by-side 100-yard practice fields will be built just south of the current Grand Prix track, which eventually will be moved to the west campus.

Well, this could explain some of the Boilers problems with getting into the end zone. Perhaps the week they were shut out by Penn State 12-0 they had been practicing on the 70-yard field and just weren’t accustomed to having to go a full 100 yards.

Blog-hating Joe Tiller provides some amusing copy:

"We thought we could survive on 70 yards, but the reality is it's very difficult to do that because, for instance, at no time can you practice your two-minute game," Tiller said. "And we have to kick off from the 10-yard line to simulate where the kickoff is.”

Yes, and you have to leave somebody’s hat and shoe at one end to mark where the end zone is and you have to hope nobody throws the ball into Mr. Furley’s yard or else we’ll never get it back.

When the arena project is completed, Burke believes the next major goal should be to add the deck to the stadium.

"I don't want people to think we've lost sight of doing it," he said. "I think we need to do it, it's when you should do it. (The arena) project will take priority over the next four or five years. It probably eliminates your remaining obvious deficiencies in your facilities.”

My facilities? Are you talking about my bathroom, Morgan?

I do like that Burke doesn’t want people to think they’ve lost sight of doing Phase 2 to the stadium. Especially given that he says the following things in the same article:

"I think at that point in time, if all the stars line up, the university needs to think long and hard about if that's the right time to finish Phase 2.”

“…strategically, I do think that deck is the way you finish the stadium, and I think it needs to be done. But I don't have a timeline for it.”

“Whether you ever get to Phase 3 (adding a deck on the north end of the stadium), I don't know."

Thanks for clearing all that up, Morgan. Glad you’re our athletic director. And people wonder why Boilermaker fans are a cranky bunch.

Jeter Is Good

This Should Improve Our Appearance