The University is planning a major overhaul of ticketing and student seating for basketball games, which will likely take away the Colonial Army’s early admission to the Smith Center, an official said.
Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz said the group will lose its early entry privileges. Kvancz and Robert Chernak, senior vice president for Student and Academic Support Services, said in separate interviews that they want to give all students and equal opportunity to sit in the lower area of the Smith Center.
The University scheduled a meeting for Thursday evening with student leaders to gauge student opinion for change in policy. Helen Saulny Cannaday, the assistant vice president for Student Academic and Support Services, said if student leaders show significant support for the Colonial Army, its privileges could continue but it would be outside the purview of SASS. Cannaday said the athletic department manages the Smith Center and could have the final decision in the matter.
Kvancz said definitively that the group would not have the same seating privileges, while Chernak said a decision has not yet been made.
“Nothing has been decided,” Chernak said. “I think that what we need to do is discuss openly what issues are and see what people say.”
The University is looking to broaden its basketball fan base. Kvancz said the Colonial Army does not allow students equal access to the best seating.
“I want everyone to be treated equally,” Kvancz said. “The people in the Colonial Army will probably still be the ones in the lower bowl, but it’s more fair this way.”
Chernak, who lauded the Army’s support of the athletic program, echoed similar ideas.
“One should not be required to join a student organization to get good seats,” Chernak said.
In place of the Colonial Army’s early admission, Kvancz suggested to a University committee charged with deliberating the ticketing process that a portion of student tickets should be released one business day before a game, giving early entry. The remainder of students would be able to enter the Smith Center the day of a game with their GWorlds.
The plan, Kvancz said Monday, aims to “change the culture” of basketball ticketing. The University plans to replace the bleachers in the Smith Center with arena-style seating, he added.
“We’re behind the times a little,” Kvancz said. “I want students to understand that they’re going to have to pick up tickets, but how do I change the culture in terms of tickets and at the same time create ambiance? Is there a way to do that without losing attendance?”
The University also is concerned with alumni entering the games with expired GWorlds. There are plans to have each GWorld validated before the season, Kvancz and Chernak both said.
Kvancz said the impetus for the ticket policy is an approximately $1.5 million renovation to the Smith Center that will replace bleachers with individual seats. The renovations will be done within the next three years, if not sooner, Chernak said.
Student leaders will meet Thursday night to discuss ticketing changes with the University staff.
“We don’t want to do anything contrary to what students feel is fair and practical,” Chernak said. “After these meetings take place we’ll try to take into consideration everything. If we come up with something that appeals to everyone, we’ll do it. Everyone has their own vested interest – there are a lot of different issues and no single magic answer.”
A decision can be expected within the next week and the University will immediately let students know the policy, Chernak and Kvancz said.
“My biggest concern is letting people know,” Kvancz said. “When I was a student, I remember just wanting to know exactly what the policy was, as opposed to being left in the dark.”