It’s no normal Saturday morning in Bloomington.
With a matchup against the No. 1 team in the country and archrival on the deck in just a few hours at 4 p.m., hundreds of Indiana students eagerly headed to Assembly Hall to wait in a line for general admission entry to the game. And, with both teams ranked in the AP top-25 for the first time in the rivalry showdown since 2016, there’s a lot to be excited about.
By 8 a.m. Saturday morning, a line of students that had been compiling outside Assembly Hall since 10 p.m. Friday night stretched all the way down to Wilkinson Hall. About 20 minutes later, security guards opened the doors to Gladstein Fieldhouse, and the line began to file inside from the sub-20-degree temperatures.
Students had stocked up with provisions like coffee, McDonald’s breakfast and a 24-pack of Bud Light, which – to the dismay of a group of IU seniors – was taken away almost immediately.
“We’re basically just confiscating alcohol,” a campus security guard said. “You can’t bring in any chairs or bags. Other than that, they’ve been really cool about us taking stuff away.”
Guards at the entrance to Gladstein were more lenient though, and fans were eventually allowed to bring in garbage bags full of food, pillows, sleeping bags, books, portable chargers and personal hygiene items. Some fueled up with the likes of yogurt, protein bars, Gatorade and fruit. Others chose a culinary assortment of Mountain Dew, Cheez-Its, Red Bull and Oreos.
They knew camping out for several hours wouldn’t be an elegant experience, but as one group of students put it: “We’re survivors, not thrivers.”
The front section of Gladstein Fieldhouse, which was structured like a theme park queue with dividers and gates, quickly filled up. Still, IU event services has a plan in store for when overflow fans start piling in.
“Once we fill up the final curve, we’re gonna move everybody down,” IU event services employee Justin Beaver said. “Around 1:30 or 2 p.m., we’re gonna move them to the other line (outside Assembly Hall). We have plenty of space – we know that we can fit the same amount that we have tickets for.”
So, with over five hours to kill until entry to Assembly Hall ensued, how were fans choosing to spend their time?
For students who waltzed down 17th Street around 7:30 or 8 a.m., card games, karaoke and socializing with other line members were popular activities. But for those who had been camping out since the night before or headed straight to Assembly Hall from a night out on the town around 4 a.m. Saturday morning, sleeping was a more reasonable option.
No matter the situation, there was an undeniable buzz throughout the entire Northwest neighborhood. Students were eager and optimistic about the game, many predicting a positive outcome for the Hoosiers.
“IU by at least 10,” IU senior Adam Hill said. “Vegas has us winning by one, and Vegas is never wrong.”
Only time will tell if the guesses of the sleep-deprived Hoosier faithful are accurate, but one thing is unarguable: by 4 p.m., Assembly Hall will be packed with a dedicated fanbase that’s ready to see a show.