According to sources and reported by James Kratch of nj.com, Rutgers will be the host school for the Big Ten Wrestling Championships in two years.
The last time - and, as far as we can determine, only time - Rutgers hosted a wrestling tournament was the 2013 EIWA Championships at the RAC.
Rutgers has been an attendance leader over the last several years, this year averaging over 5,000 and hosting a sellout for the Penn State match. The Big Ten liked Madison Square Garden’s environment so why not bring another big event east.
Traditionally the Big Ten uses four mats for the championships; at the EIWA - if I recall correctly - there were only three in use. According to the report and the sources quoted, there would be four in use and the arena’s capacity woulds remain at around 8,000. An unofficial report noted the attendance for this year’s finals session was announced at 6,319.
One of the points raised by Kratch in his report is that the RWJBarnabas Health Performance Center would be in use by March of 2020 (scheduled opening is summer 2019). There would not be any competition there, but the facility - with its training and sports medicine areas - would be accessible for athletes.
The Big Ten normally does not release championship locations more than a year in advance which is why this report has not been confirmed.
The RAC and wrestling logistics
What would a post by me about a facility be if I didn’t do a little design and layout thinking? A standard NCAA basketball court is 50’ x 94’. A standard NCAA wrestling mat is about 50’ square, meaning two mats could sit end to end and just about overlap the entire court.
So, I have a bit of a concern about the size of the RAC and fitting everything. It’s a tight fit regardless. The RAC was designed as a basketball facility.
For Rutgers to do a 2 x 2 set up as Michigan State did (photo above) it would probably need to push in the
courtside matside seats, eliminating that capacity. That might not be necessary if they put four mats end-to-end from the entry side of the building to the pull-out bleachers.
They could, just throwing ideas out here now, put additional temporary seating on the concourse in front of the concessions. That would actually provide a pretty good view.
And, yes, I’m jumping the gun. Hey, I’m excited if it’s true. And I’ll be the first one on line for tickets. Rutgers needs to upgrade facilities so it can host championships. And you have to start somewhere. Let’s wait for that official announcement.