From a presidential debate to the 14th Dalai Lama to concerts and lectures, the University of Miami’s BankUnited Center has been the site of just about every kind of event imaginable. On January 18 the facility made history again, hosting its first high school basketball game—a matchup between rivals Christopher Columbus High School and Belen Jesuit Preparatory School.
“UM really didn’t have to do this,” said City of Coral Gables Commissioner Frank Quesada, referring to the institution making its on-campus arena available for the game. “It really shows good faith on their part to be open to high school sporting events, giving youngsters and their parents a chance to see a beautiful campus and visit great restaurants in the City of Coral Gables. It was great for Coral Gables and the kids.”
That is the primary reason Quesada decided to honor UM with a Seal to the City medal before the start of the game, thanking the University for making its campus more accessible to high school students. “We hope that it’s the first of many more high school games at UM,” said the commissioner, a 1998 graduate of Belen.
Sergio M. Gonzalez, senior vice president for University Advancement and External Affairs and a Belen graduate, accepted the award from Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason on behalf of UM.
Others honored during the January 18 on-court ceremony for helping to make the game possible include José R. Mas, a Columbus High School graduate and University of Miami alumnus and donor who is CEO of MasTec, a Coral Gables-based engineering and construction company; Lorenzo Muniz, general manager of the BankUnited Center; Belen parent Steve Marin; and the student body presidents from Columbus and Belen.
The game itself turned out to be a thriller, with Columbus hitting a top-of-the-key three-pointer with 0.9 seconds left in a tied game to defeat Belen 57-54.
The two Catholic, all-boys schools are longtime rivals. Last year, they played the first baseball game at the newly constructed Marlins Park.