Comcast Center (College Park, Maryland)
|Location||Paint Branch & Regents Dr
College Park, MD 20742
|Broke ground||May 2000|
|Opened||October 11, 2002|
|Owner||Maryland Stadium Authority|
|Operator||Maryland Stadium Authority|
|Construction cost||$125 million
($162 million in 2013 dollars)
|Structural engineer||Delon Hampton & Associates|
Comcast Center is the arena for the University of Maryland Terrapins men's and women's basketball teams. The Comcast Center, dubbed "The House Gary Built", was ranked the 7th-toughest venue to play in by EA Sports. The on-campus facility is named for the Comcast Corporation, which purchased a 20-year, $25 million corporate naming agreement. Comcast Center replaced Cole Field House as home court, which had served as the home of Maryland basketball since 1955. Ground was broken in May 2000 and construction was completed in October 2002 at a cost of $125 million. Comcast Center, which has a capacity of 17,950, opened for Midnight Madness on October 11, 2002 and the first official men's game was a 64-49 victory over Miami University (Ohio) on November 24, 2002. On January 25, 2012, the court was renamed in honor of Gary Williams, the men's basketball coach who had retired the previous year.
In addition to the main basketball court, Comcast Center also features a 1,500-seat gymnasium for volleyball, gymnastics and wrestling; an academic support center; a 400-seat banquet hall; and the offices of the athletics department. Inside the lobby on the east side of the facility is the Terrapin Walk of Fame and History, featuring many images of the past of Maryland athletics as well as the 2002 men's national championship trophy and the 2006 women's national championship trophy.
The student section contains 4,000 seats arranged in the first ten rows on all sides of the arena, plus the most notable feature of the arena, the steeply pitched kop-style seating area at the west end of the arena behind the visiting team's second half basket, informally known as "the Wall." Originally designed to reduce excavation costs due to a hill, the area features 2,600 student seats meant to intimidate opposing players who shoot free throws in the second half.
Although it is Maryland's largest arena, it is actually the second-largest arena in the Washington, D.C. area, behind the Verizon Center. It is also used for concerts, graduation ceremonies including those for the University of Maryland, and other special events. Concert seating capacity is nearly 19,000.
Normally, about 4,000 student tickets are issued for a typical home game, primarily along courtside and "The Wall." Maryland is considered one of the most intimidating student sections in the ACC alongside North Carolina and Duke. However, Maryland had a reputation for having one of the most ravenous student sections in the nation for several years before Comcast Center opened, dating back to their days at Cole Field House. Because of the athletic department's online lottery system which distributes tickets to students, most games are student sell-outs. Student attendance is typically highest for conference games (especially Duke, for which the demand for tickets is exceedingly high), non-conference games against top teams (such as the annual ACC–Big Ten Challenge) and the annual "Maryland Madness" event (formerly, though still colloquially, known as "Midnight Madness") held in October to signify the team's ability to begin practicing. Attendance by students is generally lowest for early season exhibition and non-conference games, as well as games played while the students are on Thanksgiving and winter break.
The online ticket system was implemented for both football and men's basketball beginning with the 2002–2003 season, as an alternative to the traditional method which required students to camp out for tickets to big games. Though it is somewhat more fair in that it gives all students an opportunity to attend games without forcing them to give up time waiting in lines, it has come under fire by students for several reasons. Because there are more than twice as many tickets available for football games, these problems are generally not significantly associated with football.
Tickets are given via a weighted lottery; students accumulate loyalty points for claiming and attending games and Maryland Madness. Each point gives the student one more entry in the lottery for subsequent games. For example, a student with 10 loyalty points will have his or her name entered 11 times for the game he or she wishes to attend (once by default, and once more for each point); by contrast, a student with zero loyalty points will have his or her name entered only once. Though the system does give a decided advantage to students with more points, as it was designed to do, it is still possible (and somewhat common) for students with no or few points to receive tickets to late season games. This aspect is most commonly debated leading up to the yearly home game against Duke, when an abnormally high amount of students request tickets, and it is not uncommon for students who have attended every home game to lose the lottery while students who have attended no games win a ticket.
"Scan and Leave"
As a result of the advantages students gain by attending games early in the season against typically underwhelming non-conference opponents, a phenomenon developed known among students as "scanning and leaving." In order to receive a loyalty point, a student must do three things: request a ticket online, claim it (if selected in the lottery) and, finally, present their ticket and student ID at the entrance to Comcast Center to be scanned and authenticated. Once the student's ticket is scanned and he or she is allowed into the game, the ticketing system awards the student a loyalty point. The student is then free to leave the game whenever he or she pleases. As a result, many "diehard" fans complain that a significant number of students "scan and leave" games, even well-attended conference games, as a means of building up loyalty points for games later in the season with a greater degree of perceived significance and/or a higher chance of demand exceeding supply.
Notable games at Comcast Center
- December 14, 2002 – In Maryland's debut game against a ranked opponent at the new arena, they fell to the #17 University of Florida Gators, 69–64. Despite a valiant effort, Maryland's inability to contain Anthony Roberson from behind the arc and shooting just 36% from the free throw line led to a less than auspicious christening of the facility against a ranked opponent.
- January 18, 2003 – The Terrapins defeated then undefeated #1 Duke, 87–72.
- February 17, 2003 – Due to a major snowstorm in the area, the game against #10 Wake Forest was postponed from the previous night. Since most ticket holders were unable to travel to College Park, the athletic department instituted an open attendance policy. Anyone with a valid student ID was given free admission and the general public was charged $20. The near-capacity crowd was composed mostly of students enjoying their snowday, and the Terrapins defeated the Demon Deacons, 90–67.
- February 22, 2004 – The third largest crowd to watch an Atlantic Coast Conference women's regular season basketball game and the second largest crowd to watch a women’s game at the Comcast Center (13,346), went home disappointed as No. 4-ranked Duke defeated the Terrapins 72–59.
- February 12, 2005 – The Terrapins won their third consecutive game against Duke and became first team to sweep the regular season series from the Blue Devils since Wake Forest did it during 1995–96 season. The 99–92 overtime thriller coincided with a visit from ESPN's College GameDay.
- February 13, 2005 – The No. 18-ranked women's team lost to No. 4-ranked Duke 60–49 in front of the largest crowd to watch an Atlantic Coast Conference women's regular season basketball game (17,243).
- March 20–22, 2005 – Comcast Center hosted first- and second-round games for the NCAA women's basketball tournament. The No. 7-seeded Terps used their home court advantage to defeat 10-seed Wisconsin–Green Bay but lost to No. 2-seeded Ohio State. In the other games, Liberty became only the second 13-seed to advance to the Sweet 16 by upsetting fourth-seeded Penn State and fifth-seeded DePaul.
- February 7, 2006 – Maryland came from behind to beat Virginia, 76–65, to give Gary Williams 349 wins at Maryland, surpassing the record previously set by Charles "Lefty" Driesell.
- January 28, 2007 – The largest crowd in ACC women's history, 17,950, watched 2nd ranked North Carolina defeat 3rd-ranked Maryland 84–71, surpassing the record set the previous season.
- February 17, 2007 – Undefeated and No. 1 Duke women's team beat #6 Maryland on Senior Day 69–57 on only the second ever sold out game for women's basketball at the Comcast center.
- January 14, 2008 – The #4 Maryland women's team beat #10 Duke 85–70 at home for the first time in ten years. The crowd of 15,531 is the fifth largest in ACC women's basketball history.
- February 21, 2009 – Trailing by as many as 16 points, and still down by 9 with less than two minutes to go, unranked Maryland came back to beat #3 North Carolina 88–85 in overtime. Maryland fans rushed the court after the upset victory.
- January 25, 2012 – The basketball court was named in honor of Gary Williams, the men's basketball coach who retired after the previous season. That night, the men's basketball team fell to Duke, 74–61.
- February 16, 2013 – Maryland Men's Basketball upsets #2 Duke in a thrilling 83-81 victory. This was the first victory for the Terps against the Blue Devils since 2010 and the first win against a top 3 ranked team since 2009. This also was the first victory against Duke for Mark Turgeon as the head coach for Maryland Basketball.
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- "Comcast Center". Delon Hampton & Associates. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
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- "Comcast Center". Maryland Athletics. Retrieved December 31, 2007.
- Au, Laurie (February 4, 2005). "Duke Tix a Hard Snag Even for Die-Hards". diamondbackonline. Retrieved December 30, 2007.
- Kraut, Aaron (December 7, 2007). "Scan and Leave". diamonbackonline. Retrieved December 30, 2007.
- North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Maryland Terrapins - Play By Play - February 21, 2009 - ESPN
- Official page
- Maryland Men's Basketball Page
- Maryland Women's Basketball Page
- Official Gary Williams Site
- Virtual Tours of the Comcast Center
- Video of inaugural tipoff at Comcast Center
Cole Field House
|Home of the Maryland Terrapins
2002 – present