Written by Erren Harter
During our Monday Morning Quarterback show our guest was Jory Collins, ESU Lady Hornet Head Coach and in addition to talk about his team and new recruits a question was posed about the fact our Ladies have on three occasions lately been ranked Number One in the Central Region, but unable to host because White Auditorium was busy with a high school state basketball tournament.
This has become an ongoing problem.
Years ago there was an attempt to hold both tournaments simultaneously with a less than acceptable result. A broken leg resulting in a 45 minute delay caused the college event to start late with games ending after the witching hour.
The city controls White Auditorium and isn't about to give up the very lucrative annual state high school tournament to accommodate the university on a "need be" basis.
Kind of a “bird in hand deal.”
I was in Hays several years ago when they gave up their longtime high tournament to host a college regional.
Conversations with the hotel owners and merchants indicated lots of disenchantment with not having 16 high school teams in Hays starting on Wednesday compared to having seven visiting college teams arriving on Thursday and starting to leave after Friday games and dwindling down to one visiting team by Saturday!
My favorite retired Emporia dentist texted me Monday suggesting I ask Jory about the hosting situation.
Jory obviously doesn't like it, but doesn't over react understanding that would hurt his team.
What we have is a very perplexing problem with no lack of discussion or concern, but also without a good answer.
Using Emporia high school was considered, but that floor doesn't meet championship regulations.
Moving our host location to say Washburn has even been considered, but they weren't willing.
Discussions about this can get heated. A comment from an outside source suggesting - our city doesn't look out for its' students and fans - struck a nerve with me.
My reaction was - well, maybe Emporia State needs to build a crappy little field house like Harding has in Searcy, Arkansas.
And therein lays my question for today.
Maybe our solution is bigger than we've been considering.
Emporia High's gyms are not convenient for fans in terms of parking, bathrooms or concessions. Maybe an upgrade is in order?
Maybe a new venue in Emporia could make sense?
What if the school district, university, community, area schools and the public all decided to collaborate? Maybe Jones Trust could help?
Pittsburg State and the city just built a facility together.
Hosting indoor track, tennis, wrestling, other youth sports, and the list goes on might be considered?
We'd still use White, but maybe another gym solves lots of problems?
Let's at least take a look.
It's "Something to think about" and I'm Steve Sauder.