Chris Eversley and the other Cal Poly men’s basketball players must feel obligated to dunk this year.
The Mustangs are pouring approximately $40,000 into NBA-style standalone baskets for the upcoming season, notable mostly for the give they provide high fliers.
“It’s good for us because that’s what you see growing up,” said Eversley, a junior forward. “Shaq breaking the backboard and whole thing coming down, and Dwight Howard breaking the shot clock. It’s just a little bit more excitement for us.”
The Cal Poly players might not be able to produce the same rim rattling as the NBA big men, but the stanchions represent an upgrade to an aging facility that helps it feel just that much more modern.
In an effort to fund that improvement, the Mustangs are also rolling out a new seating plan at Mott Gym. Head coach Joe Callero said it focuses on fostering a more intimate feel that could be considered an upgrade in itself.
Come Cal Poly’s home opener against Northern Colorado on Nov. 15, the courtside will be nearly ringed on three sides by a row of folding chairs at a premium price.
The idea to add the chairs was borne from the standalone baskets, which require a greater clearance area on the baseline than the hoops that currently suspend from the wall.
The floor area created by a retreat of the baseline bleachers will be home to a row of seats, while all but one of the sponsored tables opposite the team benches will be replaced with courtside chairs.
The new seating comes at a cost to overall capacity. Two full rows at the top of the stands behind each basket will be lost, representing an estimated 100 seats, Callero said, and that’s when factoring in the 38 additional floor seats. That figure would dip the maximum capacity under 3,000.
But Cal Poly is hoping the additional revenue is more than enough to counter the lost seats and will continue to fund improvements to a gym that first opened in 1960.
With seats licenses selling for $1,200 per year or $3,000 for a three-year commitment, the courtside seating could raise more than $45,000 if every seat is sold, enough to cover the new baskets.
Eight have already been purchased, Callero said, and those that aren’t filled would be awarded in random game-day promotions.
“We have to create revenue streams. The budget isn’t growing,” said Callero, who said courtside-seating revenue will not contribute to the men’s basketball budget but will instead fund further improvements to Mott Gym.
“It will be reinvested in the facilities,” Callero said, “help recruiting, help student environment, current player environment and fan environment.”
Eversley is particularly excited for the upgrades.
The former Rice transfer has played in arenas of all sizes. His gym at Chicago Walter Payton High seated 75. Arenas in Conference USA seated up to 14,000.
Through two years of travel within the Big West Conference, he’s glad to see Cal Poly competing in the facility race.
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction for us because a lot of the teams in the conference, they have the NBA hoops and they have the courtside seating,” Eversley said. “Personally, I like the interaction that you can have with the people.
“You can see what’s going on. You get a better feel for the game. You can hear us talking a lot more. When you’re right there on the floor, you’re right there in the game.”