Small Changes to Increase Verizon Center Turnout
Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 02:03
Those in attendance at last Saturday’s season-closer against Syracuse know first-hand the energy and excitement that filled Verizon Center from tip-off to the storming of the court. Hoya fans created a palpable and rousing sixth man for our boys in gray and made a major contribution to this memorable end to the storied Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry.
As a die-hard fan who has attended nearly every home game over the last two years, this level of attendance and enthusiasm was a welcome change from the norm. Despite healthy attendance at a few other big games this season, more games than not have featured a dismally small student section.
Though our attention now turns to the NCAA tournament, we cannot miss this opportunity to reflect upon the season and evaluate our performance as fans.
What follows is a series of constructive suggestions for a variety of groups, which, if implemented, would lead to a significantly stronger student presence during next year’s important inaugural season of the newly reconstructed Big East.
Buses that currently whisk Hoya fans to the Rosslyn metro station used to — as recently as several years ago — shuttle students directly to Verizon Center. This service needs to be reinstated, even if it means reducing the number and frequency of the buses.
Too many students are dissuaded from attending games or purchasing season tickets because of the time commitment of attending a game. In order to secure a good seat and successfully navigate the bus and metro ride, both to and from the game, the entire trek can last four or five hours, sometimes more.
So to make it simple, spend some of the money we spend now on Rosslyn buses on direct busing to Verizon Center and start them a minimum of two hours early for the more enthusiastic fans.
We have no problem getting high turnout for big games like Syracuse, but we often come up short during December games against no-name schools. To remedy this, I propose that the Athletics Department institute a loyalty program that rewards attendance at less-popular games with reserved seats at big match-ups. Imagine if you got a guaranteed first-, second- or third-row seat to the Syracuse game for attending 90 percent of all other home contests. I would definitely be at every game. This idea is simple, cost-free and geared directly toward the problem.
Hoya Blue needs to step its game up, big time. Though I don’t for a minute question the intentions and deep school spirit of Hoya Blue’s leaders, I know I am not alone in questioning their practices.
First off, it was ridiculous to see several members of Hoya Blue’s executive leadership participate in pregame and halftime promotional contests. Having been selected to compete in a half-court shot myself, I know that participants are picked from the first few rows of the student section. The problem is that the Hoya Blue staff for each game reserve themselves seats in the front row. Those who waited for upwards of eight hours outside Verizon to get a decent seat not only had to watch a pack of Hoya Blue staffers roll up a few hours before game time and sit in the front row but then had the pleasure of seeing them have the chance to win substantial prizes during the game. This delegitimizes Hoya Blue and irks fans. Why have the Stonewalls — the young alumni fan section — received so much positive attention and press? Because unlike Hoya Blue, they are true fans trying to improve the game-day experience for everyone.
This next observation might sound silly, but hear me out. We have no cheers. Well, we have three: “Let’s Go Hoyas,” “Defense, Defense” and “Hoya Saxa.” But after being prompted to yell “Let’s Go Hoyas” for the 127th time in one game, it starts to get old. While I don’t propose turning the entire student section into a coordinated cheerleading squad, small games with small attendance benefit from coordinated cheers — especially creative cheers unique to Georgetown. Easy solution: Hoya Blue needs to put their thinking caps on during the off-season and come up with five good cheers that are easy to remember. Make big cards with the cheers on them, have some of the staffers hold them up, and just like that — problem solved.
While this list is by no means complete, I believe it represents several easy and affordable solutions for increasing student turnout during the entire men’s basketball schedule. As a top-five team, we as students have a responsibility to support our classmates throughout the entire season, not just during the big rivalry games.
Matthew Strauss is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service and former campus news editor of THE HOYA