By Ryan Queler
For Unwind Magazine
Despite a change in the sports culture at the University of Maryland in recent years, alumni continue to return to College Park, with hopes to witness the same success the athletic program had in the past.
Maryland athletics experienced change in the last 15 years highlighted by a conference move from the ACC to the Big Ten in 2014, and the move from the beloved Cole Field House to Xfinity Center in 2002. Cole served as the home for the Terrapins basketball teams for over four decades.
Many alumni still return to College Park to watch the Terps play against new opponents in a different environment. Edward Silva, a university graduate from the class of 2004, has season tickets to men’s soccer, football and basketball games.
Silva said he “enjoys seeing how much the campus is continually changing,” when he comes home for the football tailgates.
Silva also recalls the Cole Field House atmosphere, a unique and old-fashioned arena that he claims was louder and more packed than Xfinity ever is.
“It’s hard to compare Cole versus Xfinity Center but it just felt like you were watching in a historical arena,” said Silva. “There wasn’t a video board, real snack bars, or even modern bathrooms, but once you walked in and were able to look down at the seats surrounding the court, you just felt the history. Although Cole was hotter and cramped, it was better than watching a game at Xfinity.”
Silva believes that Maryland athletics, although in a transition phase, is poised for a bright future.
“The financial problems that the athletic department had incurred under the previous Athletic Director (Debbie Yow), seem to be resolving itself with the increased revenue from the Big Ten Conference. Obviously some sports need to improve such as football, wrestling, and volleyball,” said Silva.
With a 2-5 record in 2015, the Terps football program and game day environment has been a disappointment for both students and alumni this year. Marty Handelman, a class of 2014 graduate and 13 year season-ticket holder, attests that the crowds have struggled as much as the team.
“I was here for the Friedgen era. Even when we struggled then, the stadium was alive and electric,” said Handelman. “These days it’s quiet, dull, and might as well be an away game. We need to get a coach that can shock Byrd Stadium back to life.”
Despite the underwhelming football program, Handelman is excited to return to Xfinity Center, for what is shaping up to be the best men’s basketball team in the Mark Turgeon era. They are ranked No. 3 in the USA Today coaches’ poll.