- 1525 W. Lincoln Highway
- DeKalb, IL 60115
- (815) 752-6831
Here’s another Illinois school’s basketball arena I can cross off my list. Northern Illinois University doesn’t get a whole lot of their basketball games televised. They’re awfully close to Chicago, but not close enough to get a lot of attention from Comcast Sports Net. The MAC doesn’t have a TV package with anyone, so televised games are few and far between in DeKalb.
Southern Illinois University, on the other hand, has a good number of their games televised by Mediacomm (Comcast for Southern Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa). They even do away games which is why I ended up in the rafters at the Convocation Center.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Convocation Center is that it’s not a huge arena. All parking is on site and there’s only one way in where you’re directed to the nearest spot. Once inside, it’s hard to realize NIU is not a Big Ten school. The arena is a scaled down version of a major basketball arena. You walk in on the concourse level between the upper and lower decks. The walkways around the arena are actually an indoor track. The whole area is carpeted and the bleachers push in and out like most high schools use. Hell, there’s even a few luxury suites that open up into the arena with their own private seating section.
Like I said, I was confined to the rafters so I didn’t get to see a whole lot. From my perspective, NIU is a tough place for TV crews. The truck is so far from the arena and all cables have to be ran from the truck. There was thousands of feet of cable strung, hung, and laid throughout the arena. It’s not a place I would want to work every week. Most of the problems are known by the athletic department,but they get TV so rarely, they haven’t brought it up. There’s also the unique situation of the Convocation Center being separate from the athletic department so it takes a lot to get things done properly.
The Convocation Center gets a number concerts in addition to college and high school sports. It’s a great arena for a school the size of NIU. It’s comfortable, yet if the kids are there, it can be loud.