Athletics Director Fred Glass said he has heard the pitch for such a section since taking his post, and he hasn’t had a good answer to the inquiries.
“My sort of lame response is, ‘Well, we do have a student section. It’s the biggest in the country,’” Glass said.
Now, he has a better, slightly more complicated response.
Men’s basketball student tickets will follow the same rotation system as is currently used, but when students receive tickets in sections K, L or M and within the first 25 rows, the earliest arriving ticket-holders will get the seats of their choice.
“Three or four times a year, that’s your time to come early, wear your ketchup outfit or your Gumby and Pokey, paint yourself crazy,” Glass said. “I hope you do that even when you’re not in the special student section.”
Students who buy their season tickets before Oct. 15 are guaranteed to have at least half of their seats below the balcony level. Tickets can be purchased at the IU ticket office in Assembly Hall or from 3 to 5 p.m. today at Cook Hall at the JMV sports talk show.
Glass said he wanted to implement the system last year in his first full basketball season as athletics director, but details and logistical issues forced the idea to the back burner. After hammering everything out, he said now was the time to put it in motion.
“There was the opportunity this year to either do it or not do it, and I was just determined to do it,” Glass said.
The special section will be known as the “Front Line,” staying consistent with the “Crimson Guard” student section mantra. Of the 7,800 student ticket allotment, about 1,000 seats make up the three “Front Line” sections.
Glass said the idea for the section was largely accepted by men’s basketball coach Tom Crean, who has joined Glass in growing weary of empty student seats before tip-off.
“I hate it, hate it, hate it when coach Crean comes out to engage the students, and they’re not there,” Glass said. “We’ve got a coach who wants to engage the students, embrace them and have them be a part of what makes Assembly Hall a really tough place to play for opponents.”
The “Front Line” creation is just the latest of Glass’ efforts to change certain cultures around IU sports. With football, it has been about simply getting fans into the stadium. With basketball, Glass is more worried about when students arrive.
“They come right before the game or maybe even a little late, and it’s just not creating the kind of environment we want to have,” he said.
Certain issues, such as security and seat assignments, arose in discussing a general admission section in Assembly Hall.
But as opposed to football, more basketball student tickets often sell than there are seats available in the section.
There was also concern that students would be missing class to wait in line for good seats, but Glass said he wasn’t persuaded by the idea to protect students from themselves.
“We should treat them as the young adults they are and not patronize them by saying they can’t handle the freedom of deciding whether or not they should wait in line,” Glass said.
Glass said if the “Front Line” idea is wildly popular this season, he would be open to expanding the section in future seasons. He cautioned, however, that a primarily general admission section probably won’t come in the near future.
“I’m a little afraid that if it was a pure first-come, first-serve, students might be more inclined to cherry-pick the games they want to go to, knowing that they can wait in line to get a good seat,” Glass said. “We might then see a significant drop-off in our overall sales.”
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