DETROIT (WXYZ) — Tickets for the game sold out in minutes, with students filling the stands.
The pep band -- rocking – adding to the electric atmosphere inside Wayne State’s new basketball home.
“This is amazing, it’s beautiful in here, it really is,” said spectator Alexandra Libe.
The University of Michigan agreed to help Wayne State open the fieldhouse. The Wolverines easily won the exhibition game but it did not dampen the excitement over the new facility.
“So, this is our first, after 104 years, standalone basketball arena,” said Rob Fournier. “And what a showplace!”
Wayne State athletic director Rob Fournier gave me a tour of the $28.3 million facility, starting with VIP areas.
“You’re basically looking right over the court,” said Fournier.
“Oh, yeah, you’re in the middle of the action,” said WXYZ’s Dave LewAllen.
The private Board of Governors suite provides a more elevated vantage point to view the action.
There is seating for 3,000 fans and they were all filled for the game against the Wolverines.
Another highlight of the building, the new team locker rooms.
“This is where they spend a majority of their time, so they come in here and see this, and they’re like, wow, these guys are really, you know, they’re really putting us first,” said Fournier.
It’s a huge upgrade all around.
The Matthaei Center, Wayne State’s longtime home was never intended for basketball.
The Pistons’ G- League team, the Motor City Cruise, is also calling the fieldhouse home.
“This doesn’t happen without the Motor City Cruise,” said Fournier. “I can’t say enough about Arn Tellem and Josh Bartlestein.”
“Really, we worked together to design this piece, but it doesn’t happen without their input,” Fournier added.
The plaza that leads to the building entrance has a simulated parquet floor. It also tells the story of the city—a story that also continues inside the fieldhouse.
“We’re Detroit so what I wanted to create was that sense of, hey, this is what Detroit is all about,” said Fournier.
“The arsenal of democracy and Motown music and the automobile industry and then social justice,” said Fournier.
“It’s going to draw the attention of people beyond academics. “We’ve got the new STEM building, law school, but this is what brings the general public. This will be the attraction,” said Fournier.