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Louis Brown Athletic Center

Louis Brown Athletic Center
The Rutgers Athletic Center/RAC
Former names Rutgers Athletic Center (1977–1986)
Location 83 Rockafeller Road
Piscataway, NJ 08854
Coordinates
Owner Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Operator Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Capacity 8,000
Surface Hardwood
Construction
Broke ground 1975
Opened November 30, 1977
Tenants
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (NCAA) (basketball and volleyball)
New Jersey Nets (NBA) (1977–1981)

The Louis Brown Athletic Center, more commonly known as the RAC (for its original name, the Rutgers Athletic Center), is an 8,000-seat multi-purpose arena in Piscataway, New Jersey on Rutgers University's Livingston Campus. The building is shaped like a truncated tent with trapezoidal sides on the north and south ends. It is home to the men's and women's Rutgers Scarlet Knights basketball teams. Previously, the University used the 3,200-seat College Avenue Gym from 1931 to 1977.

Contents

  • History 1
  • Reputation 2
  • Non-Rutgers Sporting Events 3
  • Non-Sporting Events 4
  • Possible Expansion 5
  • References 6

History

The arena opened on November 30, 1977 with a win against rival Seton Hall.

The arena was known as the Rutgers Athletic Center until 1986, when it was renamed for Louis Brown, a Rutgers graduate and former member of the varsity golf team, who made a large bequest to the University in his will. Despite the name change, the building is still largely referred to as "The RAC" (pronounced "rack") by students, alumni, fans, and players.

Reputation

Inside the RAC during a basketball game

The RAC is renowned for being one of the loudest arenas in college basketball when at maximum capacity. The trapezoidal design of the building allows the crowd noise to resonate, creating a deafening environment. The RAC has even been described as being "louder than a 747 at Newark Airport."[1]

ESPN's Jay Bilas has lauded the RAC, saying, "The Scarlet Knights play great there, and the crowd is right on top of you and intimidating."[1]

Former opponents have also extolled the RAC's atmosphere. Former Connecticut Guard Ben Gordon said, “It is very difficult at the RAC. They have a great home crowd. The student body and everybody really comes out to support them. Just the way the gym is shaped, it seems like everybody is on top of you. At times, if you're not focused, you can get lost in the game just by how intense the crowd is."[1]

Former Syracuse forward Hakim Warrick notes that "they (the fans) are definitely some of the best fans on the road that I’ve played against. It’s crazy how much they love their team. The way the gym is made, it’s just made to keep the noise in. It’s loud and crazy down there.”[1]

Non-Rutgers Sporting Events

The font facade of the Louis Brown Athletic Center.

The arena was the home of the NBA's New Jersey Nets from their second year in the NBA, 1977, when the team moved from The Nassau Coliseum, until 1981, when the Brendan Byrne Arena opened at the Meadowlands Sports Complex.[2] It also hosted the 1985 and 1989 Atlantic Ten Conference men's basketball tournaments. The arena is also the site for the girls and boys Middlesex County high school basketball tournament finals, and various boys and girls New Jersey high school basketball state playoff games. On Saturday April 13, 1996, a Professional Bowler's Association tournament was broadcast live from the arena on ABC, the Johnny Petraglia Open.

Non-Sporting Events

The Grateful Dead played at the Rutgers Athletic Center on May 15, 1981. Styx brought their Grand Illusion to the RAC on October 24, 1979. Linda Ronstadt also played here on her "Living in the USA" tour and sang with a terrible sore throat.

The arena was used on Friday, April 27, 2007 for Rutgersfest, an annual concert normally held outdoors, but held in the RAC that time due to rain. The performers were The Roots, Hawthorne Heights, and Everclear. Due to lack of seating, only 5,000 tickets were given out, angering the 15,000 or so (est.) other students who were then unable to attend.[3]

The arena is used every June as a graduation hall for Piscataway Township High School, John P. Stevens High School, and Edison High School, as well as for other high schools in surrounding cities. The graduations are free to attend and anyone may attend.

May 3, 2008 The RAC hosted SpringBlaze 2008, a concert featuring Christian rock bands with a special appearance by Rutgers Football Head Coach Greg Schiano.

Starting in 2014, Rutgers University Dance Marathon is held at the RAC, having moved from the College Avenue Gym.[4]

Possible Expansion

The Newark, NJ based Star-Ledger and the Rutgers University newspaper, The Daily Targum have reported that former Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti planned to expand the Louis Brown Athletic Center to include more practice facilities, more concourse space, and a seating expansion to accommodate 12,500 fans, including club seating and premium restaurants. Pernetti also stated that he wanted to book more concerts at the arena and at nearby Rutgers Stadium.[5]

In its current configuration, the RAC is the smallest arena in the Big Ten Conference when the Scarlet Knights joined July 1, 2014, with slightly fewer seats than the 8,117 at Northwestern's Welsh-Ryan Arena. The other 13 Big Ten schools' arenas, including the 17,950-seat XFINITY Center at Maryland, all seat at least 12,500. Current Athletic Director Julie Herman hopes to expand the facility, as well.

References

  1. ^ a b c d "Louis Brown Athletic Center". The Official Site of Rutgers Athletics. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Retrieved May 11, 2009. 
  2. ^ "NETS: New Jersey Nets History". New Jersey Nets. Retrieved May 11, 2009. 
  3. ^ Huang, Michael (April 26, 2007). "Rutgersfest held indoors due to rain". The Daily Targum. Retrieved May 11, 2009. 
  4. ^ https://www.facebook.com/RUDanceMarathon/posts/10151880292194872
  5. ^ Luicci, Tom (January 4, 2010). "Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti reveals plans for major overhaul of Rutgers Athletic Center". The Newark Star Ledger. Retrieved May 11, 2009. 
Preceded by
Nassau Coliseum
Home of the
New Jersey Nets

1977 – 1981
Succeeded by
Brendan Byrne Arena
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