For the first time since 1992, the University of Maine men’s and women’s basketball teams will play their home games at the campus’ Memorial Gym in Orono this season.
The facility known as The Pit had been the home court of the two basketball teams until they moved into the Alfond Arena in 1992. Alfond has been home to the UMaine men’s hockey team since the program’s inception in the 1977-78 season. The UMaine women’s hockey team also plays there.
The basketball teams began playing at the new Cross Insurance Center in Bangor during the 2013-14 season and that has been their home ever since, even though they practice at Memorial Gym and do play an occasional game there.
The UMaine women’s basketball team had played America East semifinal playoff games at The Pit the previous two seasons due to a conflict with bull riding at the Cross Center. UMaine won both games.
“Due to the inability to host spectators, and the strict testing requirements of America East, The Pit became our only option. We value our partnership with the Cross Insurance Center and will be moving our games back to that facility once the restrictions are lifted,” UMaine athletic director Ken Ralph said Tuesday.
The two basketball teams played 10 games at The Pit during the 2011-12 season while the university was raising funds for a $14 million upgrade to the facility and the field house.
No spectators or media members will be allowed at the games this season because current COVID-19 restrictions only allow 50 people at any indoor event. Only players, coaches, essential team personnel and necessary facility personnel will be allowed.
UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy said Tuesday that after a full review of the America East Health and Safety Return to Competition Protocols, and in compliance with the University of Maine System and with guidance from the state, she determined that the teams can play their games at The Pit.
The campus is currently empty as students have departed for an extended winter break.