“The university and the Harvard-Allston Task Force have been meeting over several months to discuss many elements of the plan,” said Kevin Casey, a spokesman for Harvard, which previewed its plans at a community meeting Thursday night. “We are pleased to take this important step forward in the master planning process next week and look forward to our continued discussions within the university, with the city and with our Allston neighbors,” he added.
Harvard officials declined to offer specific details on Friday, such as the cost or the timeline for what they call a master plan. Some details were available in an outline filed with the Boston Redevelopment Authority and on the Harvard Magazine website.
The basketball arena would be 60,000 square feet inside a four- to nine-story-tall building that would also include 40,000 square feet for mixed use and offices, the magazine reported.
That setup sounds similar to what Yale has in the also-historic Payne-Whitney Gymnasium. (And a quick side note: Payne-Whitney is old but has been renovated and really is one incredibly cool contraption of a facility. It feels like a video game in how many different levels there are, combined with all the sports training happening on a given afternoon.)
The interesting note to the Crimson's arena's plans is, this new Harvard hoops home won't exceed 3,000 in seating, either. (The plan is about 2,700.) Why not try to go a little bigger and bank on basketball in the future? Shoot for a 4,000-seat palace!
Alas, they won't. But the facilities will be a massive upgrade nonetheless, and that's needed news for a fledgling program. This boost comes on the heels of Harvard making its first NCAA tournament in more than 60 years last season. It also comes about while the school has undergone an academic scandal that reeled in a couple of basketball players, too.
But the backdrop to this is indisputable: There is now palpable faith and pride in athletics at Harvard across many genres of faculty. It's inspiring because Ivy League culture, heavily spearheaded by Harvard highbrows, has looked down on athletic achievement as some sort of social taboo for decades. (If we're that good in football or basketball, are our academic numbers taking a big hit? is how the credo cries between the hallowed walls in Cambridge.) Now, instead of holding back on stale and paranoid ideals, Harvard can be a charging leader in a culture shift that the Ivy desperately needs if it's to become more than a cute annual side story in basketball every March.