College Sports

Cramped confines could turn Coastal's dream into nightmare

CONWAY - With Coastal Carolina clinching the Big South regular season championship Thursday, the league office now has its doomsday scenario - the conference tournament at 1,039-seat Kimbel Arena.

The Big South seldom gets the opportunity to showcase its teams. With both semifinals on ESPNU and the final on ESPN2, the tournament gives the league its greatest exposure of the year.

Yet the Big South may not put its best foot forward in March. The league rewards its regular-season champion with home-court advantage throughout the event.

"We do have some concerns about the size of the facility and the issues it raises," said Big South commissioner Kyle Kallander, who attended a Coastal home game earlier this month.

"Clearly you want to put on a good show and have your best product on national television. That was one of the reasons we went to this format. We wanted to have packed facilities and a great atmosphere. We've had that, but we've also had some small facilities. That does concern me, because we want to be in the best light."

Image is not Kallander's only concern. The challenges of splitting tickets, serving the media and finding places for cheerleaders and bands could become a logistical nightmare.

"We've got to get all of our ducks in a row," Coastal athletics director Hunter Yurachek said. "It's not too difficult to plan, but you've got some challenges. You've got to take tickets way from one of your two bases - either your students or your season-ticket holders. Tickets will be at a premium, and I don't necessarily think that will be a bad thing. It'll just be tough to get everybody in there that we want."

There is little doubt that Kimbel Arena will be full. But the lack of space would certainly cost Coastal thousands in revenue. Depending on which would result in a higher number, the tournament host must pay a guarantee - $1,500 for the first round, $4,500 for the semifinals and $5,000 for the final - or 25 percent of net gate receipts to the Big South after expenses. The host keeps all profits after that.

However, the size of Coastal's venue means the school would likely turn only a small profit. It's possible that Coastal could lose money on the event, Kallander said.