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Sunday, January 22, 2017

CC Special Report

Volleyball and Cardinal Arena

In the past few days, news came out that Volleyball would be switching all of their matches back to being played at Cardinal Arena.  There was also news that the Athletic Department is looking to spend approximate $600,000 for renovations at the arena, with $425,000 just to replace the seating.

Additionally, we were hearing reports that Volleyball and Women's Basketball will be swapping office space.  I had not seen official confirmation of this part of the changes until I reached out to new Volleyball Head Coach Dani Busboom Kelly for comment.  The Volleyball program currently occupies part of the Yum! Center on Floyd Street (sometimes affectionately referred to as, "Little Yum"), while Women's Basketball occupies offices on the third floor of the Student Activity Center (SAC), also on Floyd Street.  Cardinal Arena is in the SAC, and would result in the Volleyball program having their offices and practice facility be in the same location that they play.  Coach Busboom Kelly confirmed that the two programs will be swapping office, saying:

"The move to Cardinal Arena allows us to have a volleyball only, volleyball specific facility. We can tailor the arena to exactly what we need and we can make it an amazing experience for our fans. The biggest motivation for the move was to create a fun, loud, energetic home court advantage. With our fans being close to the court, it makes it an intimate experience and they can see and appreciate the power and athleticism of our players. We are currently working through which changes will be made to the arena, but we are expecting it to look completely different.

"We will also be switching office space with women’s basketball. We will be able to practice and play in Cardinal Arena without having to swap floors or worry about scheduling conflicts.

Scheduling has been a challenge in Cardinal Arena, with Women's Basketball Player looking to come to Cardinal Arena, their practice facility, to put up some extra shots and finding that it's set up for a Volleyball event.  Women's Basketball has, at times, used the "Little Yum" facility for practices, as well.

The Worldwide Take

I applaud this move, although I do have one concern (more on that in a moment).  I always thought, ever since "Little Yum" was built, that it was odd that Women's Basketball used Cardinal Arena for a practice facility and played at the KFC Yum! Center downtown, with Volleyball practicing at "Little Yum!" and playing (at least some of) their matches at Cardinal Arena.  The obvious resulting scheduling conflicts seemed eminently avoidable.  This move solves that problem.

For atmosphere, Cardinal Arena can't be beaten,  the seating is very close to the playing floor, no matter where your seats are in the arena.  Cardinal Arena is not a large arena, the current stated seating capacity is 840.  Volleyball draws crowds that will largely, or completely fill the arena.  I've been there when Cardinal Arena was full for a volleyball match multiple times (including a match against UK with a stat sheet attendance of 1207, in a facility that officially seats 840), and it gets loud for the home team.  It creates a great home court advantage, and is a great move for that reason.

The one concern that I have (alluded to above) is that 840 person (or so) capacity of Cardinal Arena won't be enough to accommodate the Volleyball crowds.  The average attendance of UofL Volleyball last year, during a year with not a great deal of success, was over 1,900.  OK, those number may be a bit generous, but if everyone that attends volleyball games regularly at the KFC Yum! Center went to the games at Cardinal Arena, it would be a crowded facility indeed.  I'm especially hopeful that attendance will pick up, with a new coach and hopefully new success for the team, and that could quickly pose a problem.  The flipside of that is that approximately 2,000, in the KFC Yum! Center just get lost in that facility, mitigating the benefit of being on the home court.

Ultimately, it is my firm belief that UofL needs to step up with some sort of intermediately sized
facility to host the program.  Cardinal Arena will, I believe, ultimately prove to be too small, while the KFC Yum! Center is too large.  We really need a Goldilocks facility, one that is neither too big, nor too small, but "just right."  I believe that such a facility would seat somewhere between 5,000 and 8,000.  That would be small enough that the home court advantage still exists, but big enough to accommodate all of the fans that might want to come to matches, with room for future growth.  Such a facility would, obviously, be a discussion for the future, so for the time being, I'll be happy to lead to the C-A-R-D-S cheer when opponents call timeouts at Cardinal Arena.



  1. Glad we finally got some clarification. It will be interesting to see how the timing of construction goes with the SAC renovation and the Cardinal Arena work. I'm looking forward to seeing this "completely new look."

  2. I will endeavor to get some reaction from the other party involved in the swap...WBB. Also trying to set up a pre-season outlook from LAX and will see if Coach Young has any thoughts...since she shares the building as well.



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