Cole Field House holds its own special, unique meaning to anyone who has passed through the University of Maryland's College Park campus during the last 60 or so years.
But now, as Cole Field House is being transformed into a $155 million athletics and academic complex, the sale of the seats allows former Terps Scott Horst and Vera Osidach to keep a piece of a building that was so special to them for different reasons.
Horst, a Hagerstown, Md., native who went to school in College Park from 1986-1990, joined the Terrapin Club in 1997 and has been a Terps men's basketball season-ticket holder since. He sat in the 25th row of Section B at Cole and now has four season tickets at Xfinity Center, which he shares with his wife, Cora, his son, Cameron, and his daughter, Megan.
Years of attending games at Cole shaped Horst's memories, whose days as a student included some lean years for the men's basketball program after the tragic death of Len Bias in 1986 but saw the program turn into a national power by the early 2000s. The seats Horst bought are labeled seats 33 and 34, although he doesn't know what section they came from. He wanted 33 and 34 because those were two of the four seat numbers he had at Cole.
"That building was pretty unique," Horst said. "The design, I think, just made it really loud. The amenities weren't great, especially the bathrooms if you've ever been in there. It was a struggle, especially at timeouts or halftime.
"It was a very narrow concourse area. Basically a sweatbox with all those people jammed in and loud -- great atmosphere to watch a game, obviously."
Osidach, an Ohio native who completed her master's degree at Maryland in 2002 and graduated in 2003, didn't get an opportunity to attend any games at Cole. But Osidach was a big fan nonetheless; it didn't hurt that the men's team won the NCAA tournament during her time in College Park.
Osidach has been to men's and women's games at the Xfinity Center since then, but she was attracted to the sale of the seats mostly because she's a collector of sports memorabilia. She owns autographed jerseys, photos, footballs, baseballs, bats, hockey pucks and soccer balls, as well as a seat from Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
Osidach enjoys the history behind the items. For example, her seats from Cole Field House are a reminder of Texas Western's historic national championship won at Cole in 1966, in which the Minors played only its seven black players. The two seats she bought came from Section O, which she picked to match her last name of Osidach.
"They fit in perfectly," Osidach said of the seats with respect to her collection. "They fit in perfectly because I actually have a panoramic view of the last game at Cole Field House and the seats right underneath that. I also have a framed copy of …
The Washington Post when the men won the championship. I'm pretty sure Juan Dixon is on there."
The sale is being run by Fernando Palacios, the managing director of Hilco Global and a Maryland graduate. Palacios got the ball rolling last year when he was invited to athletic director Kevin Anderson's suite for a basketball game last January. Palacios pitched the idea to Anderson of selling seats from Cole, which was set to undergo a transformation into an indoor practice facility for football.
Eventually, the idea became a reality, and Hilco won the contract to remove and sell the seats from Cole Field House. Hilco started taking out the seats on Christmas Eve 2015 and made its first sale in late January.
As of late February, Palacios had sold about 480 pairs of seats out of the 4,500 pairs that were originally available for purchase. Hilco is warehousing the seats in Laurel, Md.
Fans can buy seats at colefieldhouse.com. Palacios is pleased with how fast online auction items like lockers, section signs and signed seats have gone, but he'd like to see some more movement on the seats in the future.
"If you don't get a piece of this stadium now, you're never going to get it," Palacios said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity -- seats at the old stadium that's held high school [and] college graduations, state basketball championships, obviously all the Maryland women's and men's games, old wrestling matches, gymnastics events.
"Everyone in this area -- three, four million people in this area -- everybody should've been touched at least once by Cole Field House in this area. I truly believe that."
The seats come as is; Horst and Osidach have years-old gum stuck to the bottom of the seats. A pair of seats costs $400 plus tax. If fans want to buy feet for the seats so they can easily sit in them in their home -- the seats were attached to concrete for decades -- they can pay about $150 plus shipping for that add-on. Horst bought feet for his seats, but Osidach plans on building a base for the seats with her nephew and painting it gold.
Palacios is currently holding a "cash and carry" event at the warehouse in which buyers can pick out their seats in person and pay with a credit card, check or cash rather than go through the process online. The warehouse is located at 9125 Whiskey Bottom Rd. in Laurel. The seats are at warehouse H with pickup at the back loading dock.
Proceeds from the sale of the seats will help defray the expense of the new football facility, Palacios said.
Issue 219: March 2016