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Sun Dome struggles to bring in fans

Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 23:01

The USF Sun Dome, after its $35.6 million dollar renovation, was recently ranked fifth in the nation as one of 2012’s “University Top Stops” according to Venues Today Magazine.

But given it’s now nationwide popularity and ability to hold between 10,001 and 15,000 people, it’s a wonder how there are so many empty green seats at both the men’s and women’s basketball games.

Though celebrities such as Elton John and Wiz Khalifa, who have recently performed at the Sun Dome are sure-fire sellouts, the Big East — arguably the most popular division in the NCAA — isn’t filling seats.

For some student fans, the answer is pretty simple.

“It’s the record,” Blake Hylton, a freshman majoring in political science, said.

Hylton has a point.

“You’re in the Big East, and you’re 1-7. I’m not even going to go to the games anymore,” he said. “The boys are good, but we have to play better.”

With the men’s team at 1-7 in the conference and the women’s team starting to find a groove, earning its third win in the Big East, having a stronger record could certainly bring in fans.

But would that be enough?

Some students said they feel that the basketball teams aren’t promoted enough around campus outside of the USF Athletics website. 

During football season, people would walk around the Marshall Student Center reminding students to request tickets, but for basketball some students such as Euan Burton, a senior majoring in geography, think that more can be done to give the teams more of a presence.

“I don’t think people are aware of how our basketball team is,” Burton said. “When there’s a football game everyone knows about it, but the Sun Dome is right here and people don’t go.”

Men’s basketball games currently average 6,900 fans per home game, which includes the opposing team’s fans. In the Big East opener against
Syracuse, the Bulls played in front of a sellout crowd. However, most of that crowd was full of orange shirts.

At the beginning of the season against UCF, the men’s team played in front of a substantial student section that by halftime was being out-cheered by a small UCF fan section.

For the women’s team, things aren’t much better. While opposing teams’ crowds help the cause, as the Bulls average 1,531 people per game, the Sun Dome can’t seem to get high student attendance.

Perhaps it is the record. After all, people see Elton John because he plays music and he delivers that demand. Students go to basketball games for their team to win games — a demand that has been more difficult to meet.

It could be the lack of presence on campus. How can students attend events that they don’t know about or aren’t constantly
reminded about?

With all of these reasons taken into consideration, can the basketball teams really be the ones to blame?

Winning for either team could prove to be easier with stronger student presence to back them, and nothing serves as constant reminder for games better than a giant Dome that many student walk by throughout the day.

It’s clear that the problem comes full circle, but the problem is there nevertheless and something should be done, whether that means students taking upon themselves to support their Bulls or basketball motivating the students.

Students will get the chance to show school spirit as the women’s team takes on No. 12 Louisville tonight at 7 p.m. and at the next men’s home game against
Marquette on Feb. 6 at 7 p.m.

 

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