By Lance Jordan, Sports Editor
Those looking to catch a St. Louis Surge women’s basketball game in the Mark Twain Gymnasium this season will be out of luck. The St. Louis Surge have officially left the University of Missouri–St. Louis in order to expand their growing franchise.
“We wanted to provide our fan base with a change of scenery. We’ve been at UMSL for the last five years, and we thought it was a great move to move to a central location,” Colier says.
Owner and General Manager, Khalia Collier came into ownership of the Surge in May 2011. It was during this time she would implement the new model of the program, focusing on the character of the player first and talent second.
The team roster is made up of very talented and experienced players. For some members of the roster, they have been able to travel across the country to play overseas during the Surge’s off seasons.
During the team’s start with UMSL, the team saw a crowd of at least 1,000 fans. But after three regional championship victories in 2013, 2014, and 2015—and two national championships in 2014 and 2016—the team has outgrown the intimate atmosphere of UMSL.
The team in recent years has averaged 2,100 fans per game, a number Collier and her team wants to continue to see increase with this upcoming season.
“We don’t want to drop below 1,000, and it’s packed, it’s live, it’s fun, and it kind of creates an atmosphere. WashU seats a little over 3,000, which gives us that packed house feel and energy we’re looking for.”
Washington University’s newly renovated Field House, located in their Athletic Complex, will become the team’s new home with the start of the 2017 season. Considered one of the finest small college facilities in the nation, Field House seats for 3,000 fans and has a floor space of 17,250 square feet.
“We are excited about partnering with the St. Louis Surge,” says Chris Peacock, Washington University interim director of athletics in a press release. “This is a great opportunity to broaden our relationship with the St. Louis community while serving as a host to the Surge and their fans.”
With the start the 2017 season on May 20, the Surge will not host their first home game until June 10. Proceeding the June 10 game, they will continue to play at home for their last four games. The team will also have the privilege of hosting the Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League Championships, their second time in the team’s history, the first being in 2013. According to Collier, “The timing couldn’t be better.”
The opportunity will allow the team to possibly go back-to-back championships, which will definitely draw out a large crowd as it did in 2013, when the Auburn Flyers beat the Louisiana Bayou Angels 95-73. According to Collier, the team hosted the largest crowd turnout in the WBCBL Championship history, with this year hoping to be bigger and better.
“We don’t feel any pressure. I think we know without question our goal every year,” Collier says.