Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Fan's Guide to the Comcast Center

We know that for many Mystics fans, this Thursday will be their first time attending a game at the Comcast Center. But for many others (especially the BasketCases), Comcast is a home away from home during the college basketball season. For us, it's a place where we've spent countless exciting and fun-filled hours watching the University of Maryland Women's Basketball Team (Go Terps!). So to have our beloved Mystics -- in the postseason -- playing at the home of our beloved Terps is pure BasketCases nirvana!

Like all fans, we'll be spending most of our visit with our eyes glued to the court during the playoff game. But before and after the game, and during halftime, there's plenty more for fans to see at this great arena. If you're a first-timer to Comcast (unlike President Obama, who will be making his second visit Thursday morning), be sure you don't miss any of the women's basketball history on display around this beautiful facility. (Coincidentally, many of these "historical items" relate to the Terps' 2006 NCAA National Championship.) So for newbies, here's a BasketCases' "must see" checklist:

The Wall Mural. If you're able to take a peek inside the tunnel leading to the locker rooms, you can't miss this subtle reminder to every visiting team that enters and exits the tunnel that they are playing on the home court of a National Champion.

On a Mystics team of only eleven players, astonishingly four of those eleven played in that 2006 National Championship final. (Of course, only two have fond memories of that game.) And interestingly, a total of six of the eleven Mystics have actually played games at Comcast Center. Five are obvious (Lang, Marissa, AB, Mo & Lindsey -- all of whom have had great games on this court) . . . but can you name the sixth? (The answer is here (no peeking unless you need to!)) So while the Mystics won't be playing their first playoff game on their true home court, Comcast Center is as close to a second home as this ACC-rich Mystics team can get!

The Orbitz Trophy. Every year the winner of the National Championship is awarded an impressive cut-glass reminder of their accomplishment -- the Orbitz Trophy. The University of Maryland actually has two huge Championship trophies on display, one belonging to the Gentlemen Terps (near the front entrance), from 2002, and the don't-miss-one commemorating the 2006 Championship in a custom-designed kiosk in the center of the main concourse. The display also includes photos from the game and even a push button recording of one of the most exciting moments from that NCAA final! (Don't forget your camera in case you want to have your picture taken standing next to the trophy.)

For the record, though, as lovely as the Orbitz Trophy is, it's not the official National Championship Trophy. Nope, the actual Natty awarded by the NCAA to the winning team is that large vertical block of wood you see the players holding in all the post-game photos. The Terps have one from 2006, of course (plus a spare). In fact, there's actually a stand for it in the display case just off the main concourse at Comcast, among the displays of many other Maryland sports trophies. But in the 3 years since the Terps won the Natty, the BasketCases have never seen it on display. We have seen it many times in photos taken in Coach Frese's office. (And there's an unconfirmed -- but reliable -- report it's been spotted sticking out of Coach B's diaper bag.)

The Final Floor. We confess, this is the BasketCases' all-time favorite item of basketball memorabilia! So cool! If you enter Comcast Center on the ground floor, or take the elevator down to the lower level, you'll find the center circle of the actual basketball court from the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston (the former Fleet Center) on which the 2006 Final Four (including the National Championship game) was played. (Or, as we like to call it, the Final Floor.) That's right, Maryland bought the hardwood, and had it shipped down to College Park for permanent enshrinement. You can check out Crystal Langhorne's scuff marks. (Or maybe they're Mo Currie's, we aren't exactly sure. And it's probably not a good idea to ask her, just before the tipoff of the Mystics' playoff game.) You can also see the Final Floor by looking over the railing on the main concourse, but there's nothing like going downstairs and actually touching the real thing. (Another photo op, naturally.)

The Banners. Once in the arena itself, be sure to look skyward. There are quite a few banners hanging from the rafters, including a few that Mystics fans won't want to miss:

Crystal Langhorne. Fittingly for a player who broke so many University records, Lang's jersey was honored at the end of her senior season. As you can see, Lang still wears the same number for the Mystics that she wore with so much success for four years playing for the Terps.

Marissa Coleman (and a little-used Chicago Sky rookie). At the end of Marissa's senior season, her jersey was also honored, along with that of her classmate and teammate, Kristi Toliver. Since Mo Currie had already laid claim to the Mystics' #25, Marissa chose to wear #4 for her WNBA career.

Vicky Bullett. Mystics Assistant Coach -- and Maryland legend -- Vicky Bullett never played at Comcast, but her banner found a new home there when the Terps' basketball teams relocated from Cole Fieldhouse to the new arena in 2002. The BasketCases are embarrassed to admit that we couldn't find a photo of Vicky's banner . . . but we assure you her number's hanging there in the rarified air along with the others. (We'll be bringing our camera on Thursday and we promise to rectify this omission ASAP!)

The Championship Banner. And finally, for Terps fans, of course, the banner of all banners, the one that represents the greatest NCAA team achievement of all.

When Angela Taylor was named the Mystics GM last fall, she set about to build a team around players who are winners. It's pretty clear what a great job she's doing. And we hope that, on Thursday, all the winningness on display at Comcast Center will be an inspiration to everyone on the Mystics roster . . . and help lead the team to a BIG win.

The BasketCases plan to do something that day we never thought we'd do at the Comcast Center in our lifetimes . . . cheer loudly and enthusiastically for Dukies! (OMG, was that a pig that just flew past our window?) We will! On Thursday, there will be no Terps, no Dukies, no Wolfpack, no whatever . . . just Mystics! On Thursday, ACC rivalries at Comcast Center will be put on hold. Only one thing will matter . . . a first round win for Washington!

Go Mystics, Beat the Fever!

* * * * * * * *

Please help the Mystics turn Comcast into Verizon North . . . whatever it takes, don't miss this game! If you haven't gotten your tickets yet, call your ticket rep now or go to Ticketmaster.com. There's plenty of parking at Comcast, and a free shuttle if you are arriving by Metro. No excuses! See you there!

* * * * * * * *

Parking Update: The BasketCases just received our tickets from the Mystics for Thursday's game, along with a letter stating that "the University of Maryland will be charging $10 for parking." Ugh. But then again, the State of Maryland is in a serious fiscal crisis.

Photo Credits: top: University of Maryland; all others: DC BasketCases


At 2:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great wbb mojo at Comcast. Enjoy and good luck Mystics!

At 2:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is great BB mojo at Comcast. We also have a floor and crystal ball from the Men as well as multiple men's banners. 27 sports, 1 team. Go Mystics!

At 3:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 4:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go Mystics!!

At 4:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just got our tickets, and it included a note that parking will be $10. Oh well.

At 6:51 PM, Anonymous NovaCath said...

If you have not received your tickets, call your rep. I got someone else's tickets.

At 7:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Got mine!

At 11:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what time the gates open on Thursday? Can't wait!

At 8:08 AM, Anonymous Stewart said...

I have a friend in from Germany who went to Saturday night's game and is looking forward to the playoff contest tomorrow. Can't wait to show her the Comcast Center -- although, ironically she now claims Lindsey Harding as her favorite Mystic -- a Dookie!

At 9:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the parking update. My tickets will be at will call, so I didn't get any info about parking in the mail. I live about 2 miles south of UMCP and figured I'd drive since parking seemed so plentiful. But $10--youch! Looks like I'll be lacing up my walking shoes! Really appreciate this blog!!

At 9:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

$10 seems reasonable to me for on-site sports parking.

At 9:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am surprised we have to pay for parking. At terps games, you don't pay. ??

At 9:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is the game going to be televised on Thursday night? I tried to set my recorder this morning to tape it and I don't see it on ESPN or ESPN2, at 7pm tomorrow night. ?

At 10:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's on the Deuce.

At 10:19 AM, Blogger BasketCases said...

Thursday's game will be televised on ESPN2 at 7pm.

Parking generally has been free for women's basketball games at Comcast, although we have a vague recollection that, a few years ago, there was a charge for some of the "big" games (e.g., Duke).

Frankly, given the State of Maryland's financial problems, and the serious budget cuts at the University, we have no idea whether parking will continue to be (mostly) free this season.

-- BC

At 10:25 AM, Anonymous Mystics/Duke fan said...

If the Mystics have to play in Comcast again, I hope you'll do a better job at making Duke fans feel welcome there. It's hard to like a place where my Duke team got boo'd (and we weren't even playing the turtles) and a family member of a Duke player on the men's team got a bottle thrown at her by a terp fan during the game. It's an extremely UNfriendly place for a Mystics/Duke fan to venture. You've done nothing to change that. You could demonstrate that you don't have to HATE another team/player/fan in order to LOVE your own team. Good mojo? I think NOT.

At 10:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Duke fans can be hostile also and I am sure they have "boo'd" some terps. That doesn't excuse the bottle throwing incident for sure though. That's just a ignorant person and hopefully they were caught and thrown out. I don't consider that person a true "sports fan."

I am a Terps fan all the way but embrace Mo, Alana, and Lindsay because they are on my team, the Mystics now. I assume you feel the same way about Marissa and Crystal. So there won't be any "unfriendliness".

At 11:38 AM, Blogger BasketCases said...

Answering a question above: the doors will open Thursday at 6pm, Will Call at 5pm.

-- BC

At 11:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the last time I was in College Park, Vicki Bullett was playing. Is there still a UMD dairy store selling campus-made ice cream nearby?

At 1:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mystics/Duke fan,

Not to speak on the behalf of the BC's but you sound petty! I hope you work out your issues before the game on Thursday.

At 7:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, there is still a UM Dairy. It is at Turner Hall, on Rt 1. But it closes at 5 PM.

At 7:13 PM, Blogger xwomynjoc said...

All these young ladies are now Mystics' players. It is my hope as a Terp fan that college stuff is put aside and we all cheer for our team's players. This is the Mystics. I did not boo the Duke team 2 years ago and the bottle throwing incident was the men's team, it had nothing to do with the women. At the "Rebounders" meeting last night, I reminded Terp fans attending that we need to support all the Mystics' players and they agreed. Many Rebounders bought tickets to the game. Angela Taylor and Maria G. attended the meeting asking for support. Class act by A.T.

At 8:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's hope that neither the Mystics nor the refs are taken in by Catchings' knack for pulling players into committing fouls and flopping.

Go go Mystics!!!!

At 9:08 AM, Anonymous Mystics/Duke fan said...

xwomynjoc and other Mystics/Terps fans: It has been and continues to be wonderful to see y'all embrace players who your college team played against. By the same token, I have greatly enjoyed cheering and getting to know players like Lang and Riss who now play for the Pro team I root for.

I mention the bottle throwing incident because it has made Comcast legendary (in a very bad way) among Duke fans. I was looking for things that might help me anticipate a Mystics game in that building. Instead I got a rah rah Terps tour of the dreaded building on the website I love to go to for the witty and creative posts about our team - the Mystics. Ugh.

Well, I've taken some heat from Duke fans for promoting Lang over Harding for Most Improved. To take the Mystics and the WNBA to the next level of fandom, we've all got to stretch and reach out.


At 9:46 AM, Blogger BasketCases said...

Dear rAf, we mean, Mystics/Duke fan,

A "rah rah Terps tour" on a blog devoted to the "Terps" and the Mystics???

How utterly unexpected!! How shocking!! Not to mention how insensitive!!

What were the BCs, we mean, what were "we" thinking!!! LOL!


At 10:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha! yes, the last time I checked this was a blogsite devoted to both the Terps and the Mystics (and that means all of the mystics). You act as if Duke fans are perfect--they don't call them the "cameron crazies" for nothing. Obviously in college basketball, the terps and blue devils are rivals both in the men's and ladies games. I cheer for the Terps but always respect the Blue Devils and their great teams. Now let's move on and cheer for our team tonight, the Mystics!

At 10:52 AM, Anonymous Mystics/Duke fan(~rAf) said...

If you want non-Terp Mystics fans to enjoy your blog and support our shared team, you will refrain from injecting Terp rah-rah into Mystics posts. And yes, a post about the location of the Mystics play off game IS a Mystics post.

If you don't care about increasing the non-Terps Mystics fan base, just keep on doing what you're doing.

My viewpoint may not be "fun" for you to hear. But if you truly want to grow the Mystics fanbase, you will listen. If you want your blog to be read only by fellow Terps fans, then by all means, KEEP IT UP. That is exactly what you will get. Not all Mystics fans live locally so are unable to attend many games. Right now, this blog site is the best at creating Mystics buzz, but comes at a price. When I can just ignore the Terp mania, then fine. When you promote them within a Mystics post, the price is too high.

I know you'll be deleting this, but PLEASE READ IT FIRST. Please know that continuing this way, you are cutting off an entire potential fanbase. Your blog. Your choice. If there were another wonderfully creative site for ALL Mystics fans (not just for Terp/Mystics fans), believe me I'd never come here again.

At 2:43 PM, Blogger BasketCases said...

Dear ~rAf,

As our blog clearly states, we’re a couple of crazy fans of the Mystics AND the Terps. We’re passionate about our two teams and we’ve put in thousands of hours writing about them. (Trust us, it takes a LOT of time and effort to keep a blog like this going!)

We’re happy that the Mystics fanbase is growing, but we most decidedly don’t see it as the job of our blog to grow it. If our blog helps create “buzz” for the team…that’s great! But that doesn’t change our basic premise.

We write to express our feelings, our observations, our ideas, our humor, plus any other information we decide to throw into the mix.

We’re going to continue to write whatever we want, whenever we want. We are not about to start censoring ourselves because what we write might offend you or some other reader. Which means you should expect that we will continue to go rah-rah over the Terps – even during the Mystics season, and even in “Mystics posts” – and vice versa. Because that’s who we are, crazy fans of both the Mystics and the Terps!

Anyone, including you, who doesn’t like what we write, can vote with her mouse. Just delete us from your Bookmarks or your Favorites and don’t visit again. That’s your choice. But if you do decide to visit again, don’t be surprised if sometimes you find some Terps rah-rah mixed in with the Mystics. That’s not going to change. That’s who we are.


At 11:27 PM, Blogger BasketCases said...

Dear ~rAf,

As you can see, we have deleted your most recent comment. We replied to your earlier criticism by explaining how we view OUR blog.

You may wish it were different, but it isn't. And frankly, we are bored with your criticism and arrogance. So consider this the end of the "discussion". We have no more time or energy to devote to this pointless exhange.

Our blog is what it is. Read it or don't. It's all the same to us.

And, you may have noted that we also deleted your recent comment on the playoff game blog-post above. In that comment you used an offensive spelling/nickname for a former Maryland player who we have followed for 5 years. We respect her as a person and as a player. We will not permit anyone to come on here and disrespect her in such a manner. That may be acceptable on message boards, but it is not acceptable here on our blog.

Keep your comments on-topic and respectful, or expect them to be deleted.



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