The recent records haven't given people much reason to come to the place. Or to get very excited when they did show up.
10-22 .... 12-21 .... 15-16 .... 14-18
The list goes on. No, basketball at the RAC hasn't been very exciting. So, it isn't much of a struggle to understand why a website devoted to rating/ranking arenas doesn't give the Rutgers Athletic Center much juice.
The website, stadiumjourney.com, actually reached out to On the Banks to tell us they had a rating out on the RAC. Boy, kick a guy when he's down....
They don't pretend to be a completely objective assessment, but they do give fairly thorough commentary on several categories. And they also include a "crowd review" in addition to their "official review". For the RAC, there are only three reviews, and they are dated.
To be fair, it does state that the basketball hasn't been very good (wow, there's an understatement) and that has impacted what goes on. For example, it says:
The atmosphere at the RAC leaves a lot to be desired. The game I attended was one of the marquee games of the year for the Scarlet Knights. It was the Garden State Hardwood Classic, where Rutgers takes on Seton Hall. There was not a lot of fire or excitement throughout the arena...... it was a very bland atmosphere. As far as college venues go, you can get many atmospheres that are far better than the one at the RAC.
Compare that with how Rutgers promotes the RAC on its website:
....the Rutgers Athletic Center is one of the great arenas in the nation to watch exciting college basketball. The fans are right on top of the action. It's also the perfect-sized venue to see a basketball game. This 8,000 seat arena has been dubbed, "louder than a 757 from nearby Newark." The RAC is definitely one of the toughest college basketball arenas in the nation for visiting opponents.
We seem to have a difference of opinion. Okay, let's go for the details. Stadiumjourney.com used seven categories to rate the arenas. It is subjective, and the "official rating" came from one person, but it does give you a starting point. Here are their categories: Food, atmosphere, neighborhood, fans, access, return on investment, and extras.
The highest rating the RAC received was for return on investment:
Rutgers plays some good opponents at the RAC, which means you will see some quality basketball if you attend a game. For an upcoming game, Ticket Monster lists the prices as low as $14. That is a very good price to see some quality college basketball. The prices at the RAC are also not too bad. Concession prices are very reasonable and will not hurt your wallet.
Let's make it clear: you get your money's worth watching Rutgers' opponents.
As for the RAC's lowest ratings, it was a tie among food, atmosphere, fans, and extras. Each received a 2 on the 5 point scale. The comment about the fans:
The fans at the RAC were simply not into the game. In what was supposed to be a marquee game, I never felt any excitement or fire coming from the Scarlet Knight fans. The student section was late to the game, and no one ever really got into the game....If Rutgers is playing a big time opponent the place can get loud and crazy. If they aren't though, things can be a bit subdued.
And back to one of the quotes Rutgers uses to describe the RAC on the website:
"It is very difficult at the RAC. They have a great home crowd. The student body and everybody really comes out to support them. Just the way the gym is shaped, it seems like everybody is on top of you. At times, if you're not focused, you can get lost in the game just by how intense the crowd is." --- - Former Connecticut Guard Ben Gordon
Remember, though, that Ben Gordon left Connecticut 12 years ago. In his senior year, Rutgers lost to then No. 1 UConn by a point at the RAC. Rutgers was 20-13 that year. Talk about that was then and this is now.
To give some perspective to all this, I decided to compare some random Big Ten arenas with Rutgers. Well, not that random. I avoided the big guns like Indiana, Michigan State, and Ohio State. Instead, I went with the lower tier basketball schools. And I focused on two areas - atmosphere and fans - plus the overall rating. We still look pretty bad.
Even Northwestern comes out better than the RAC. And we barely top Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center. Now that is sad. A closer look:
And the fans at the RAC understandably haven't had much to cheer about but, again, we come out even with the Nittany Lions' fans. Very...very...sad.
By the way, to complete the comment about cool names for arenas, the RAC made number 5 on Athlon Sports list.
Is stadiumjourney.com on point? Or are they misguided in their assessment of the RAC? Vote in the poll and join us in the comments.
Sometime in the near future: We'll look at their rating of High Point Solutions Stadium and the other Big Ten stadiums and take a second look at the RAC compared to other local arenas.