Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JU Moves All Home Games to Swisher; Basketball Games out of Downtown Arena

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JU Moves All Home Games to Swisher; Basketball Games out of Downtown Arena

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits

Jacksonville University's basketball team averaged more fans in six games at Swisher Gym last season than it did in nine games at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. So this season, the Dolphins are moving all their games on campus.

Athletic director Donnie Horner said the reason for playing all 14 home games for the 2015-16 season at Swisher (capacity 1,500) had less to do with empty seats and more about respecting the overwhelming response of students who said in surveys that they wanted more on-campus events - including sports.

"It was a pretty easy decision, to be honest," Horner said on Thursday. "Students come here in part because of the beauty of this campus and we want things to be more campus-centric. Part of the President's Strategic Initiative is that we're committed to making Arlington a great Jacksonville community and the more that we can do on campus, the better."

Horner said the move also is part of an overall goal to have more students living on campus. A new dorm was recently opened, housing 300 students, and another will be completed in 2017. Between 55 and 60 percent of the 2,100 undergraduate students at JU live on the campus, a number the school wants to increase to 75 percent.

The home basketball opener this season is Nov. 20 against Florida College. Other non-conference home games are vs. Thomas University, Florida Memorial, Florida A&M, Marist and Bethune-Cookman.

The home Atlantic Sun opener is Jan. 14 against Kennesaw State.

Over the past five seasons, JU has played 46 home games at Veterans Memorial Arena and 21 at Swisher. The teams have gone 27-19 at the arena (.587) and 16-5 at Swisher (.761).

The average attendance at the arena was significantly more than at Swisher for the first four years of that period but last season Swisher averaged 646, to 624 downtown.

Crowds at both venues have been declining. In 2010-11, there was an average of 1,248 fans at Swisher and 2,379 at the arena. The team went 20-12 that season but has had losing records in the four years since, going 44-80. Tony Jasick took over as JU coach last season. …

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