Basketball venue change takes toll on attendance

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    Attendance at men’s basketball home games has become a serious challenge this season.

    The team’s move to the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center during the renovation of Daniel-Meyer Coliseum has resulted in much smaller crowds at home games. The team is averaging only 3,949 fans per home game this season, compared to last year’s average of 4,955 fans per game.

    The facility’s location has made it difficult for many students to attend the games.

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    First-year student Blake Crowley, who was in attendance at the team’s home game against Texas on Jan. 19, said he was frustrated about home games being played so far away from campus.

    “To find a ride here is nearly impossible,” Crowley said. “My dorm is right across the street [from Daniel-Meyer Coliseum] and if they were there I could go whenever I wanted.”

    Capacity has also been a hurdle for attendance this season. While Daniel-Meyer Coliseum seats more than 7,100 fans for basketball games, Wilkerson-Greines seats approximately 5,000, with only a small section reserved for students.

    Many seats were empty during the game against Texas. Empty seats have not been an uncommon sight at men’s basketball games though.

    Attendance has been hurt by the team’s struggles over the past few seasons. The team’s 0-18 record in conference play last season has only added to the attendance woes.

    The Purple Haze, an organization that offers incentives for students to attend men’s basketball games, is working to get more students to attend games at Wilkerson-Greines. Sophomore Ryan Spetnagel, who works home games with the Purple Haze, hopes that their activities and offers will draw more students throughout the season.

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    “Essentially, all of us work together to put good ideas together for giveaways,” Spetnagel said. “We kept our points system from last year, and we’re just trying to make sure student attendance remains high at our off-campus venue.”

    The points system allows students to earn points at each home game by swiping in with his or her TCU ID at the student section entrance. Racking up enough points allows students to earn prizes that range from TCU basketball socks to TCU sweatpants.

    Students in attendance can also receive free giveaway items prior to the start of home games.

    “We have duffel bags; we’ve had t-shirts in the past, just a bunch of different things that we think get students to make it out to this venue,” Spetnagel said.

    Spetnagel and the rest of the Purple Haze members know, however, that high attendance will remain a difficulty until the team begins playing games on campus again.

    “Considering it’s about a 15 minute drive from campus, it’s not exactly easy to get students out to the venue,” Spetnagel said. “We’re just more than happy that we’ll be back on campus next year playing in a nice venue.”