Welcome to Lantz Gymrena

With all of the renovations going on around the athletic department, it’s no wonder everyone is getting ferclempt. I’ll give you a topic: gymrena. It’s neither a gym nor an arena. Talk amongst yourselves.

If you’ve been in Lantz within these past few weeks you have been surrounded by the sound of drilling and hammering. The renovations in Lantz are nearing completion with the new seating and video replay system being installed into Lantz Gym. But the athletic department is seeking one more change to the Charles P. Lantz building: changing the name of Lantz Gymnasium to Lantz Arena.

While it is not yet official at the university, it is already being appearing on the athletic department’s letterhead and the sports information and marketing staff are looking to spread the word.

Will the name catch on? It’s hard to believe Eastern soon could be considered to have an arena. On the other hand, the enhanced gym should have an upgraded title.

According to Webster’s dictionary, an arena is a central area used for sports or other forms of entertainment, surrounded by seats for spectators.

A gymnasium is defined as “a building designed and equipped for indoor sports, exercise or physical education.” That sounds more like the student rec center to me.

While the dictionary may have an outline of the terms, what truly constitutes an arena? Is it the technology, the capacity, or just the look?

Eastern has the smallest gymnasium in the conference, holding 5,300 sports fans. While many of those seats have been left empty in past years, the men’s basketball team saw every seat filled during portions of its 2001 campaign.

But if you travel south to the Eblen Center at Tennessee Tech, you will stare in amazement at the 10,152 seats. Compared to Tech, Lantz gives you the feeling you get when you step into your high school gym after going away to college.

The average seating among the other eight Ohio Valley Conference schools is 8,119 – larger than what the Panthers are used to.

Utilizing the word “arena” around Eastern would help highlight the improvements as well as boost the esteem of Panther fans. I would rather go to Lantz Arena than Lantz Gym any day. It just sounds big.

Of course there are other big names for little gymnasiums such as complex, dome or hall, but Lantz Arena just seems to fit. Eastern Kentucky even goes as far as to call their 6,500 capacity facility a coliseum. And at least we don’t have a Show Me Center like Southeast Missouri.

As the volleyball team becomes the first to play in Lantz Arena, it will soon be followed by the men’s and women’s basketball teams. While the university has yet to officially recognize the new name, there are already whispers around campus about the arena.

Even though you may walk into Lantz Gym and feel like you had a flashback to high school, at least it doesn’t sound like it anymore.