So UC Basketball Might Be Heading Back To The Cincinnati Gardens

The Cincinnati Bearcats basketball program could return to the infamous Cincinnati Gardens in the near future while the school renovates Fifth Third Arena, as reported by the Enquirer’s Tom Groeschen.

UC athletic director Mike Bohn and some staffers visited the Gardens on Monday. Bohn said there is no definitive date to start work on the Bearcats’ on-campus Fifth Third Arena, but the school has plans to renovate the 26-year-old facility.

UC has already completed the initial process of scoping out the costs for renovating Fifth Third Arena and already tabbed architecture firm Populous to compile the designs. If Cincinnati follows their original plans, the construction crew will break ground in April of next year, just after the completion of the Bearcats’ Final Four run in the NCAA Tournament, and put the finishing coat of paint on just before the beginning of the 2017-18 season.

That of course means that they, like the football team last year, will be homeless during the 2016-17 season and unfortunately are seriously considering the Cincinnati freakin’ Gardens to play their home games. I can see your brow frowning as you read this. Here’s a short list of venues that should be considered before even entertaining the idea of moving games to the Gardens.

  • US Bank Arena
  • A back alley behind a Taco Bell
  • The Armory
  • Cintas Center
  • My driveway
  • Bank of Kentucky Center
  • Paul Brown Stadium
  • US Bank Arena with ice as the playing surface (Hosketball!)
  • A barge on the Ohio River

The Bearcats called the Cincinnati Gardens home for a handful of years over their storied history, from 1949-1954 and 1987-1989 while Fifth Third Arena was being built. 42 Crosstown Shootouts were also played here before UC and Xavier decided to move games on campus. But that was decades ago and during that time the Gardens have undergone several tenant changes while never getting the full upgrades it desperately needed. Teams came and went, currently the Cincinnati Rollergirls occupy the joint, but the venue remained as old and grimy as ever.

Put simply, if you complain about how run down Fifth Third Arena is, you’re going to hate the Gardens.

I’m honestly beside myself as to why Mike Bohn is considering playing 15-20 games there next season when US Bank Arena is right downtown and even the Bank of Kentucky Center isn’t too far away in Northern Kentucky. Heck, play games at the Cintas Center before stepping foot in the Gardens. It’s served the teams who have played there well but Cincinnati’s going to have one heck of a time convincing season ticket holders to venture there next year.

Hopefully this is just typical due diligence on Bohn’s part. After all, he needs to consider all options, no matter how ludicrous (my driveway seats 57, FYI). Let’s also hope the Cincinnati Gardens are way, way down on his list.