I’m currently in my third year as a St. John’s student, and third year as a student season ticket holder. I enrolled here for a good education, connections, and networking opportunities. But, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share why I really applied here. Folks, there’s nothing like a great atmosphere for division one sports in a big-time conference. However, the best atmosphere isn’t under the bright lights of New York City. It’s right here in Jamaica, Queens.
Carnesecca Arena was opened in 1961, and was originally called Alumni Hall. Named after former legendary St. John’s coach Lou Carnesecca since 2004, Carnesecca Arena last underwent renovations in 2005. According to RedStormSports.com, renovations included new ticket windows, weight rooms, offices, and more. The project spanned over a three-year period, and totaled about $30 million.
St. John’s currently has another arena they call home, and it’s none other than Madison Square Garden. The Johnnies play a select number of games per year in New York City, but cut back this season. The last game at the Garden will be against Seton Hall on February 24th, just their fourth game at the world’s most famous arena.
The Garden is certainly a good selling point for potential recruits. Exposure on the world’s biggest stage while playing for New York’s biggest college basketball team can be daunting, but extremely rewarding. Playing at the Garden is where many aspiring basketball players often dream of playing.
If that’s the case, then why cut back? Behind the decision to play more games in Queens is first-year Athletic Director Anton Goff. Goff, who is very active on Twitter, has tweeted numerous times that he wants to play more games at Carnesecca Arena.
Goff says the crowds at Carnesecca Arena are electric. Well, he’s absolutely right. The last game there vs. Marquette was as loud as I’ve heard the place all year. Yes, St. John’s beating Duke was a memory I hold near and dear to my heart. But, I will never forget the student section last Saturday yelling at the top of their lungs. I’ll never forget last season, when St. John’s upset thirteenth-ranked Butler. The crowd, the electricity, and the atmosphere at Carnesecca Arena can’t be topped.
As Goff stated, it’s a true home-court advantage for the Red Storm. How many times do I have to go to the Garden only to see half the crowd in the opposing team’s gear? Again, Duke was great, but you can’t ignore the sea of blue. At Carnesecca Arena, it’s 5,602 of your closest friends cheering on the team in red.
There’s no doubt Carnesecca once again needs to be updated if it’s going to be used at the main arena of choice for St. John’s home games in the future. This includes changing the colors of the court, improving the seating, and perhaps making it wider so fans aren’t crammed on long concession lines. Goff hasn’t ruled out renovations, and has said that he is certainly discussing it. Look, it’s not perfect. But it’s like the old Nassau Coliseum for the New York Islanders. It may not be too appealing to the eye, but at the end of the day, it’s home.