Eleven years ago, the Maryland men’s and women’s basketball teams said goodbye to Cole Field House, trading their longtime digs for the swankier Comcast Center. But next month, the teams will return to the legendary arena.
On Oct. 18, the doors to Cole Field House will open for Maryland Madness, representing a merging of the old and new for both programs.
“Cole Field House represented many of the most iconic and memorable moments in Maryland basketball program history,” Terps men’s basketball Coach Mark Turgeon said in a statement. “Cole was host to multiple hall of fame coaches and countless All-Americans that helped make Maryland basketball what it is today. It will be a special evening for our fans, students, alumni and our university as we reconnect with the historic past of Cole Field House and Maryland basketball.”
Since shutting down after the 2001-02 basketball season, Cole Field House has primarily served as a student activities building, but was once home to more upsets of No. 1 teams than any other national venue. The Maryland men’s basketball team cut the ribbon with a 67-55 win over Virginia on Dec. 2, 1955, and closed the doors with a 112-92 win over the Cavaliers on March 3, 2002.
The Maryland Madness event, which marks the beginning of college basketball season, typically features player introductions and a live scrimmage. Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell was the first to hold such an event in the early 1970s.
“It’s a great chance for this generation to get a glimpse of what Maryland basketball was like and to honor our history,” women’s basketball coach Brenda Frese said in the statement. “As we celebrate our theme of, ‘Proud Past, Fearless Future,’ this is really a culmination of that with our fans, students and the players. At the same time, we’ll be celebrating our future. So when you can do all that at the same time, that’s really special.”
Turgeon’s squad reached the National Invitational Tournament semifinals last season and returns all but three key contributors, including juniors Dez Wells, Nick Faust and Evan Smotrycz. Frese’s team, which reached the Sweet 16 before losing to powerhouse Connecticut, brings back all-American Alyssa Thomas, projected to be among the top WNBA draft picks next summer.
Speaking to Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg on their ESPNU College Basketball podcast, Turgeon said he wants to “play a game in Cole every year.” The building, which stopped hosting basketball games in 2002, is currently used for intramural sports.
“We’re going to have to put some money, scoreboard, court, fix up the seating for us to do that,” Turgeon said. “I want to do it over Christmas break. Instead of playing a team on Dec. 21 at Comcast, playing a game on Dec. 21 in Cole Field House, I think we’ll fill it up and fans will be real excited to do it.”
According to the news release, Cole Field House is the country’s only on-campus arena to host multiple Final Fours, and at separate times has brought in United States presidents, Elvis Presley and a 1972 table tennis match between the United States and China, the first sporting event held between the two countries.
Tickets will become available for students and Terrapin Club donors beginning Sept. 30 at 8:30 a.m. Students can reserve seats at umterps.com/student, while Terrapin Club members can obtain them at umterps.com or 800-462-TERP.