The downpour that drenched Stony Brook University over the course of Saturday, Oct. 4 may have cast a gloomy shadow outdoors, but inside the newly constructed Stony Brook Arena, the atmosphere was buzzing.
A full 45 minutes before the Harlem Globetrotters were scheduled to take the hardwood as the first team to perform in the state-of-the-art arena, fans from all over Long Island filed in with anticipation.
The amount of staff on hand seemingly outnumbered the quantity during last year’s America East championship game.
The PA system boomed Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” as patrons stepped through the arena’s entrance.
The music failed to drown out the sound of the cluster of fans exuberant over this historic day.
Beneath the entrance was Stony Brook basketball’s seven banners, a clear reminder of the standards expected out of the arena’s home squads.
The first thing that strikes you about the arena is how vivid it is compared to Pritchard Gym.
Where the latter felt like watching a game on a small black and white television, the former came off as a 60-inch LED.
Two scoreboards, two screens adjacent to and of equal size of the scoreboards and two baseline displays emitted almost a tangible glow around the 4,008-seat arena.
The enormity of the building creates an aura that is totally opposite that of Pritchard.
The space makes one feel as if they are a part of something huge, but the court itself is magnificent in its own right.
The Stony Brook logo beams off the hardwood, its red “SB” glistening under the modern arena lighting.
The wood is of a brighter hue than that of its predecessor, giving it a much more vibrant feel.
“Oh my god, it is incredibly beautiful. We’re so excited to be here,” Bill Ciesla, who took his grandson to see the Globetrotters for the first time, said.
The ambience of the place is really amazing.”
Not only was this the first look at the new arena for Ciesla, but it was his first trip to Stony Brook period.
“This is our first time,” Ciesla said. “We heard it was opening, we saw the Harlem Globetrotters, we said, ‘we’re in.’”
Ciesla was not alone. John Lawler, who brought his wife and two grandchildren, was also new to the campus.
“I’ve only been in the hospital here, that’s all,” Lawler said. “It’s beautiful. It’s fantastic.”
While the decision to showcase the Harlem Globetrotters before one of the school’s basketball teams have left some disappointed, watching them perform on Long Island for the first time since February in front of so many eager fans—many of which have no relation to the University—was a testament to what the new arena could be to the community.
Not only do the Seawolves have a new home court, but the surrounding area has a new contemporary facility for events such as the one held by the Globetrotters.
The arena extends far beyond Stony Brook, all while representing its home with vigor, extravagance and spirit.
One homegrown fan in attendance—an 11-year-old named Terry Cummings—summed up the general sense of the new arena better than any elder fan could.
“It’s really cool,” Cummings said. “[Pritchard Gymnasium] wasn’t as great as this one.”