Nearly 8,000 students attended Friday’s football game, marking the second-largest turnout for a season opener at Sun Life Stadium and also the inception of the new student section. The number of seats available remains the same, but the atmosphere has changed – hopefully for the better.
Four of the sections used in the previous seating plan are still part of the new student section. However, the shift has moved student seating around the righthand corner of the west end zone and down toward the 40-yard line – a configuration used at other colleges with notable football programs.
At Friday’s game against FAU, this made for an improved ambiance in overall better seats. Although the student fans were more spread out, the large group felt like one spirited unit. Cheers were loud and proud.
But all changes come with growing pains, and, along with a better view, came misdirection, arguments and confusion. The first 10 rows of sections 101 through 107 belong to season ticket holders who are young alumni – those who have graduated within the past five years. However, it seems like neither students nor Sun Life staff members were well-aware of this on Friday.
Current students who entered the stadium more than an hour early unknowingly grabbed these front row seats and were later told to leave once ticket-holders trickled in after the start of the game. Not surprisingly, this created frequent conflicts and distractions throughout the night.
When such drastic changes are made, extra care should be taken to ensure that the transition goes smoothly. It would have been helpful if season ticket holders’ seats had been marked as reserved or liaisons from UM Athletics assisted the Sun Life staff with directing fans to their appropriate seats.
During the UM-UF matchup, there will be no room for error. A record-setting student turnout is expected, according to Chris Freet, associate athletic director for communications and marketing. This means the 10,000-seat student section is sure to be packed and more rowdy than ever.
Though there was miscommunication last week, the seats for young alumni will be marked as reserved at Saturday’s game, Freet said. Nonetheless, both students and fans need to be mindful of the new policy and respectful of each other.
FAU was a practice run. UF will be the real deal. The same can be said for the game itself.
Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.