When coach Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils come riding into the BankUnited Center this Sunday, it’s a guarantee that the student section will be louder and wilder than it has been all season.
That is, if students can get inside.
Due to an overwhelming demand for tickets, the office of Hurricane athletics has decided to put a limit on the number of student seats that will be available on Sunday evening. As of Wednesday night, only the first 1,250 students will be allowed inside the BankUnited Center.
The athletic department passed the restriction shortly after Category 5, the spirit programming committee, started planning for the biggest student turnout in Hurricane basketball history. The original goal: to get 2,000 students to show up.
“We initially came up with the idea to break the student attendance record for this game to build a better relationship between students and the team and to make sure students remained engaged throughout the season,” said Brandon Mitchell, chair of Category 5. “This Duke game had the potential to create one of the most electric student sections we’ve ever seen- it’s unfortunate that won’t be able to happen.”
Category 5, which actively uses Facebook as a way to promote attendance at Hurricane athletic events, had already created an invitation for students to try to make history. After news of the limitations, the online event was changed from “The push for 2,000” to “The push for a sellout.”
So far this season, the largest home crowd was against Florida State, where an announced crowd of 6,600 was recorded, which included 1,600 students. The BUC can hold up to 8,000 people.
“Approximately 6,000 general admission tickets have been distributed so far,” said Travis Watkins, assistant director of ticket operations. “Still, the student section only holds about 1,600 seats.”
At last year’s game against Duke, a crowd of 6,860 was announced.
Currently 1,070 students have said they will be in attendance according to the Category 5 Facebook event. Gates will open at 5:45 p.m. and there is sure to be a line forming prior to that, so students wishing to go should get there ahead of time to ensure that they get in.
Still, even for those able to get inside, the student section won’t be quite what it could have been.
“The athletic department wants student attendance and student atmosphere to be at the top of the country and when one of the few games that come around that could truly accomplish that, it’s unfortunate that they won’t work to find a solution to make that happen,” Mitchell said. “I think sometimes we become so revenue-focused that we don’t put our students first and remember that students are what make the arena electric and what create the exciting atmosphere- not money.”
For those who are unable to get into the game, it can be heard live on 90.5 FM or wvum.org.
Ernesto Suarez may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.