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Nor has Thomas's arrival led to a surge in alumni interest or cash. Although FIU has invested more than $55 million in building a new football stadium and upgrading the arena — while cutting back more than $32 million on academics — so far, there's nothing to show for it.
The gridiron Panthers had a dismal year, and the basketball team has averaged a paltry 120 attendees per home game this season. The arena seats 6,000.Yeesh. Of course, Rome wasn't built in a day, and programs aren't built overnight. Even a place like Indiana, with its deep basketball tradition, saw a downtick in seat sales when the program took a Kelvin Sampson-piloted nosedive. FIU is not Indiana. You have to give people a reason to care, and that reason has to be more than: "Hey, it's Isiah Thomas!" (Plus, say you lived in Miami. Of all the things you're going to spend your time on, are you going to attend a college basketball game? And if you do attend a college basketball game, is it going to be FIU? Beautiful morning here in Miami. What should I do today? South Beach ... Isiah Thomas. South Beach ... Isiah Thomas. You know, I'm going to go with South Beach again today. South Beach remains undefeated!)