The Colonial Army is awaiting a request made to the GW athletic department for an additional 200 seats in the Smith Center for the upcoming men’s and women’s basketball seasons. Memberships for all 800 seats at the Smith Center were sold out in a few hours over Sept. 6 and 7.
“We’re hopeful we can get (the extra 200 seats),” said Colonial Army Co-President Frank Dale who cited “logistics” as a complication in arranging the additional seating.
“We are working in a joint effort with a few organizations to try and make this happen,” said Dale, a Hatchet staff writer who does not cover the GW basketball teams.
The more seating available for members in the Smith Center, the more memberships the group can offer, he said.
The Colonial Army is a registered student spirit group whose members arrive to home games early for first-choice seating in the student section of the 5,000-seat Smith Center. Typically, about 1,700 seats comprise the student section.
Members from last year were able to renew their membership for $10 on Sept. 6 while new members lined up three floors of the Marvin Center staircase to get their $15 memberships from Ticketmaster on Sept. 7.
Colonial Army members also tailgate before games, receive discounts on apparel as well as away game ticket and travel packages, and get first access to preseason events such as Colonials Invasion, where the Harlem Globetrotters are slated to perform. The Globetrotters’ appearance is still not contractually finalized with the school.
The Smith Center sold out for five men’s basketball games last year against Atlantic 10 rivals, Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz wrote in an e-mail. The Colonial Army did not keep records last year of how many of their members were in attendance at the basketball games.
“Because of a great student crowd we were able to sell out five exciting league games last year: UMass, Dayton, Duquesne, St. Joe’s, and Richmond,” Kvancz said. Average attendance for men’s games was 3,757 last year.
“The GW women’s basketball team did not have a regular season sell out; however, we came very close to sell outs for the semi and finals of the A-10 tournament which we hosted,” Kvancz added. The women’s average attendance last year was 954.
The women’s team has a strong chance to sell out their Dec. 7 home game against the University of Tennessee, coached by three-time NCAA Coach of the Year Pat Summit.
The last time Tennessee’s Lady Vols visited the Smith Center two years ago, Summit brought more than 4,000 fans, mostly Tennessee alumni, Dale said.
“The problem last time was the game was over winter break,” said Dale, who said he is hopeful to see a bigger turnout of GW fans and the Colonial Army this year because the game “fortunately is before winter break and finals start.”
“I don’t know that we’ll have to promote it more than a regular game,” Dale added.
The Colonial Army enacted a policy this summer, called the women’s basketball initiative, that seeks to encourage its members to attend more women’s basketball games. Members would need to swipe their GWorld card at four different women’s games this fall to get their regular early access to the final two men’s home games of the season.
Dale disputed notions that the new policy would deter students from attending the last two men’s basketball games.
“Someone who attends four women’s games is going to be rewarded by getting the best seating at the last two men’s games,” he said. “The line (to get into the games) will not be any shorter, and someone who doesn’t attend all four women’s games may very well get good seating for the last two men’s games as long as they show up and get in line early.”
Dale said that he hasn’t received any additional feedback on the new policy since last week. He described the overall response since the initiative was announced in August as “generally positive … better than I personally expected.”
With regard to changes in attendance at women’s games, Dale said, “We’ll see what happens. The whole idea is not to punish people, but to reward people.”