One of the primary concerns about Maryland joining the Big Ten was the additional distances fans would have to travel in order to see Maryland play away from College Park. Those greater distances factored into Maryland women's basketball star Lexie Brown's decision to transfer from Maryland.
We spoke with several fans about traveling to Chicago for the Big Ten tournament this year. The overwhelming response was positive, despite Chicago being more than twice the distance from College Park than Greensboro, NC, a frequent host of the ACC's conference tournament.
"Having the event in Chicago was a huge positive motivator," Maryland fan Jon L. Levine said when asked about his trip to the windy city in March. "I would definitely attend future events in Chicago. The tournament, restaurants, and little sight seeing made it a full action packed weekend."
Another fan, Corey Sudhalter, said this when asked why he made the trip to Chicago: "From 1999 until about 2013, I attended almost every ACC Tournament with my dad. Obviously my best memory of the ACC Tournament was from 2004 but it became a father son tradition to go every year. I made my decision to go to Chicago for the Big Ten Tourney around January when it looked like this would be Maryland's best team since Greivis was on the squad."
But what about Maryland students? We asked Justin Sawyer, a member of the well-known student group The Turgeonites, who had several members in attendance in Greensboro.
"We drove to Chicago from College Park and arrived on Friday afternoon before the game," Sawyer said. "Michael Duberstein and I, who led the Turgeonites this year, drove to Oregon and back this summer, so the relatively short distance between College Park and Chicago was actually enticing to us. I'm sure some Maryland fans were put off by the distance, but we were all surprised at how many of them made the trip. Many of the Chicagoans and fans of other B1G schools that we met commented on how impressed they were at the number of Terps fans who attended the tournament."
"Being poor college students, flying wasn't an option. We had already traveled to Penn State and Rutgers, so we were used to traveling for games. We had been discussing the possibility of going to the B1G tournament all season and it worked out well given the double bye, which allowed us to only miss one day of class, and the following week being our spring break. With that being said, the fact that the tournament was in Chicago was definitely a plus, but not a deciding factor. We made the trip to see the Terps play. Had the tournament been held at an outdoor park in Pawnee, Indiana, we still would have showed up."
Maryland fans seemed excited to explore new destinations during Maryland's first year as a member of the Big Ten. What will be interesting is whether that same enthusiasm for travel continues over the years, especially since several Big Ten teams have a strong reputation when it comes to their fans traveling.