The University of Miami is not just skyrocketing in the rankings; they are also increasing its student section at Land Shark Stadium for football games.
This past spring, UM President Donna E. Shalala and head coach Randy Shannon decided to expand the student section by adding 1,200 more seats in the lower bowl.
“I believe students are an important part of a winning season,” Shalala said in an exclusive e-mail to The Miami Hurricane. “The game is played by the students and the players care a lot about a large student turnout. The students are my first priority so we have more seats – we will see if we have enough.”
According to Associate Athletic Director Jim Frevola, the UM student section will range in the end zone from sections 103 to 153 with half of section 156 being reserved for the band.
“We were able to do this because President Shalala was really enthusiastic about the idea,” Frevola said. “The expansion did not affect any season ticket holders.”
UM also preserved sections 403 through 406 in the upper deck for student overflow. Students are encouraged to sit in the first level until it is full, then the remaining students will sit in the upper bowl.
“Last year we only had one occurrence where students were forced to sit in the upper deck,” Frevola said. “Of course they can sit there if they want, but only at the FSU game last year was there an overflow of students where we had to utilize the upper deck.”
Junior Tommy Lee is excited about the additions that will enhance the football atmosphere.
“When you look at schools like Alabama and Florida, they have great spirit. Now Miami will be great with the bigger fan base.”
Land Shark Stadium ticket takers will scan Cane Cards upon entrance and then apply a wrist band. Last year there was frustration amongst many students because wristbands had designated sections and fans would get split up from their friends.
Lee is also happy that students are no longer assigned to a section.
“Last year I was forced to sit in the upper deck for a game and was split from my friends,” Lee recalled. “I wanted to be in the lower deck but there wasn’t any room. Now it probably won’t happen again.”
This year there is going to just be one colored wristband where students are free to sit where they would like as long as it’s in the student section.
Enlarging the student section will make for a hostile atmosphere. Home field advantage is integral in college football and making more noise may cause confusion for the opposing team.
“It means more students,” Shannon said of the expansion. “They are always fun. A lot of things done in the student section are great and the players really enjoy it.”
Justin Antweil may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org