CHARLOTTE — On Friday morning, the Maryland men’s basketball team will once again practice at 8 a.m., the players rolling into Comcast Center bleary-eyed from another early-morning wake-up call. After the workout ends, Coach Mark Turgeon will meet with the athletic department’s operations staff to review that evening’s Maryland Madness festivities at historic Cole Field House.
The Terrapins’ third-year coach says the historic venue is part of the tradition that helped lure him to Maryland from Texas A&M. Sometimes, when Turgeon drives past the building that has hosted intramural sports since its closure in 2002, he remembers players like Len Bias and Adrian Branch, legends who once ruled the parquet floor.
“The building’s sitting right there on campus,” Turgeon said he thinks to himself. “A lot of people love it, and we could make money by using it. Why wouldn’t we?”
Turgeon hopes Friday evening’s festivities, which begins when the doors open at 5:30 p.m., could be a dry run for his ultimate dream of hosting one game each winter break at Cole Field House. He estimated that cash-strapped Maryland could reel in $200,000 to $300,000 for a single game, provided the school sells tickets independently of its season packages.
Ideally, Turgeon envisions Cole Field House packed with lifelong Maryland fans, folks returning to the Washington area for Christmas who grew up cheering for the men’s basketball team at the arena.
“Oh remember, Mom, Dad, we used to go to Cole Field House?” Turgeon said, allowing his imagination to wander Wednesday during ACC media day. “Merry Christmas, here are two tickets, we’re going to watch Maryland play so-and-so. It’s a no-brainer. It’s an absolute no-brainer.”
Creating a season ticket solution, Turgeon said, is the last remaining hurdle to clear, besides several facility upgrades like ensuring the scoreboard, seats and bathrooms are “up to code.”
“There’s a lot of things they’d have to do,” Turgeon said, even though the idea sounds closer to reaching reality than he may admit.
Either way, Maryland expects a sellout crowd on Friday night for an alumni game, autograph session, player introductions and scrimmage. Turgeon plans to bring his players into Cole Field House just before curtain, and wasn’t sure if the Terps would even use the locker rooms. But the buzz around campus, Turgeon said, has materialized quicker than expected, and he hopes the event proceeds successfully, without a hitch. Turgeon knows how Maryland Madness can show fans and administrators alike the benefits of moving a regular season game at Cole.
Just one annual game. That’s all he asks.
“We need a sellout on Friday,” Turgeon said. “We need it to be jammed. It’s real important for me to do what I want to do down the road in Cole Field House. So hopefully it’ll be that way.
“I don’t think there’s any question the administration is thinking the way I’m thinking as we move forward. Friday, it’s a big night for us.”