On behalf of the tens of thousands of UCSB students who transformed our Campus Events Center into one of the loudest, most raucous places to watch a college basketball game in the mid ’80s through the late ’90s, we ask UCSB Athletic Director Mark Massari to tear down the Thunderdome sign and rename the venue where Gauchos play basketball, volleyball and a host of other sports.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was yet another pathetic student crowd that showed up to watch the UCSB men’s basketball team play conference rival and favorite Long Beach State in front of a live, televised audience this past Saturday. I’ve seen more energy, enthusiasm and better attendance at blood drives. The atmosphere was so bad that a TV producer found three guys sitting on surfboards off Campus Point more compelling than anything they could find in the arena. Thank god we at least have our beautiful campus and surroundings to showcase during televised games and not an empty, quiet arena.

In recent years two of the greatest Gauchos ever — Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally — played in front of many similar dismal home crowds. It’s time we stop making excuses for weak student support at basketball games. We’ve heard all the excuses: final exams, midterms, dorms closed, other things going on, blah, blah, blah. We are sick of all the excuses and empty seats! Too busy mapping out your bike route to pick up syllabi during the first week? Is Isla Vista gushing with cheeseheads watching a Packers playoff game instead of a basketball game? Please.

UCSB is a soccer school, nobody does it better or more enthusiastically than us, but we are a joke when it comes to basketball. Sure, we’ve seen a handful of great basketball crowds over the last 15 years that have shown glimpses of past glory, but we are not worthy of playing in an arena called the Thunderdome. I bet half the student body thinks that brown building on the north side of campus holds a weather simulator, rather than a place once revered as the loudest arena west of Cameron Indoor Stadium.

We ask that you stop calling our beloved basketball venue the Thunderdome. It embarrasses us; a spade is a spade, there is no thunder in the dome, but we certainly won’t leave you Soccer Locos empty-handed. How about naming it the Val Kilmer Arena or Kirstie Alley Pavilion so as to be a reminder of past greatness falling to D-list status. It’s hard for any older Gaucho to say our basketball team plays in a place called the Thunderdome without a little chuckle inside (actually a large chuckle inside). Seriously. Isn’t that painfully obvious to everyone? Stop calling it the Thunderdome, we beg you!


Larry Yells, Class of 1989, enjoys living up to his family name.

Views expressed on the Opinion page do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Nexus or UCSB. Opinions are submitted primarily by students.