Diane Richardson was standing on the Liacouras Center court with athletic director Arthur Johnson soon after being hired as Temple women’s basketball coach. Looking around at the 10,200 seat arena at the corner of Broad and Montgomery Streets, Richardson turned to Johnson with a bit of inflection in her voice.
“This is where we play, right?” she asked.
In recent years, Temple’s women’s team played in neighboring McGonigle Hall, which seats 3,900 spectators and is located on the northern corner of Broad and Montgomery Streets. They only sporadically fielded games at the Liacouras Center.
Johnson said she would have the choice to either continue playing at McGonigle Hall or move their home court to the Liacouras Center — an easy pick for the Owls’ first-year coach. According to Richardson, Temple plans to move the women’s team’s home games to the Liacouras Center for the 2022-23 season.
“I said, ‘If we’re going to be big time basketball, we’re going to play in a big time arena,’” Richardson told the Inquirer. “Liacouras does exactly that. We want to have that mindset of being the best and presenting the best. And I want the community to be able to be involved in that.”
Last season Temple’s women’s team played one game at the Liacouras Center against Old Dominion on Dec. 22. It was the first of a double-header with the men’s team, who played Delaware State.
Richardson added that she’s accustomed to coaching in bigger arenas. She coached most recently at Towson, where the men’s and women’s teams share the SECU Arena, which seats 5,200 people.
The Liacouras Center opened in 1997 under the name, “The Forum at The Apollo of Temple.” In 2000, the Board of Trustees voted to rename the arena, paying homage to former Temple University president Peter J. Liacouras.
Temple’s venue has played host to major games including the 2002 Atlantic-10 Women’s Basketball Championship, the 2004 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament first and second rounds, along with the 2006 and 2011 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament regional round.
McGonigle Hall will still be used by Temple’s women’s volleyball team, gymnastics team, and as a practice facility for the cheer and dance teams.