No fairy tale end for Hearnes

Sellout crowd helps Tigers say goodbye to their home since 1972
Monday, March 8, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:51 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Just like the Missouri men’s basketball team, fans have something to look forward to.

Even though the Tigers lost their final regular-season home game in Hearnes Center 84-82 to the Kansas Jayhawks, excitement for the future radiates from across the street where work continues on a new arena.

“It’s sad, but it’s exciting to think about a new era beginning,” Jill Varr said. “Like everything else, when there’s a new beginning you feel bad about the old going away.”

Varr, who has lived in Columbia since 1992, said Sunday’s game against Kansas represented a perfect way to close the building that housed the Tigers since 1972. Hearnes Center’s sellout-crowd of 13,611 fulfilled her pregame prediction.

“This place will be on fire,” Varr said. “It will be rocking all game, all day.”

Fans had packed into almost every seat in the stadium with 20 minutes left before the tipoff. Most of the D-section seats filled up 45 minutes before the game started. At tipoff, people were sitting with their feet dangling off the front of the D-section floors.

The noise level caused the stadium’s decibel meters to repeatedly rise above 100. The fans applauded thunderously when the Tigers ran onto the court and cheered even louder when it was announced that Norm Stewart Court would be transferred to the new arena.

Even though his team ruined an otherwise great day for Tiger fans, Kansas coach Bill Self said Sunday that the fans produced a great basketball environment.

“We didn’t come here to spoil the party,” Self said. “Certainly, the atmosphere was great. Their fans were terrific. The noise level was tremendous.”

Hearnes Center opened fortuitously on Nov. 25, 1972, when the Tigers defeated Ohio 87-75. Since then, the Tigers compiled a 403-72 record at home.

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