Filling the stadium

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In case you didn’t know, Utah Valley University has a men’s basketball team. If you were also unsure of the potential of this team, know that it is pretty damn good and is eligible for the NCAA tournament. How awesome would it be to watch the “big dance” in March and be able to see Utah Valley in the tournament? Pretty sweet, right?

UVU currently sits atop the WAC and has been playing really well at home. This is the year to be excited about the team and the potential it has to be great. At the beginning of the season, the team was struggling on the road and had a string of losses away from the friendly confines of the UCCU Center.

However, the team has been able to turn the season around and win some essential road games. More importantly, the Wolverines have nabbed conference wins in the process. The team is hitting its stride at the best possible time imaginable, before the conference tournament.

I have never been one for bandwagon fans. In fact, I hate them. But this time it would be nice to have some people hop on for a change. The Wolverines have the perfect recipe that calls for “bandwagoning,” because they’re winning. Why not support a successful team?

Here at UVU we have a student body of over 30,000. It is the biggest student body in the WAC. I am aware that some of those numbers come from online student numbers, and we do have older students than other universities. The latter statement should, and could, be used as a tool to get more spectators in the seats. The older students who have taken advantage of the opportunities of higher education could bring their families to the games.

The UCCU Center has a seating capacity of 8,500. There is no reason that this venue couldn’t be one of the best in the country. I know that might be a stretch, considering that people don’t head to the game all that much; UVU is averaging about 1,100 fans per men’s basketball game. Let’s look at one of the best examples in the nation and try to learn from it.

Duke University’s Cameron Indoor Stadium is the Mecca of college basketball. The seats are basically built on top of the court, and the crowd is so close to the action that it really affects the play on the court. UVU’s seats are also very close to the action and potentially could create a hostile environment for opposing teams. Duke’s capacity is 9,314, which isn’t much larger than Orem’s collegiate arena. Cameron has hosted some of the best games in college basketball, and we, too, are entitled to intense games if we just show up.

Just like Duke, the Wolverines play in a league that has an automatic bid in the NCAA tournament. Yet, despite competing within a Division I league with a strong history, the numbers show UVU draws a smaller crowd than can be found at most high school games.

The old saying goes “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” These things take time, but in the three years that I have spent covering UVU sports, the attendance hasn’t improved. There haven’t even been signs of improvement. Tickets are now free with student ID. Take advantage of that opportunity. UVU men’s basketball currently holds the best chance of making the NCAA tournament out of any team in the state. If that doesn’t excite you as a basketball fan, nothing will.