Cameron Confidential: Some Crazies Aren’t StudentsPosted by mpatton on January 25th, 2012
Duke is known for Cameron Indoor Stadium. It’s almost universally named as one the top two or three arenas in the country (usually with the Phog at Kansas). It’s intimate, hot and extraordinarily loud. Along the sidelines the Cameron Crazies stand (or, more likely, jump) for most of the game. The arena only holds just short of 10,000 people, but over a quarter of those seats are taken up by undergraduates and graduates. Additionally, the undergraduate bleachers are the best in the house, which is what makes the Duke home court environment so electric. But Tuesday, a report from Duke’s student newspaper The Chronicle brought light to the fact that Duke has been selling student seats to some home games because of limited student interest.
The Chronicle‘s article is a little misleading. First, the accompanying graph with the article suggests that the fact that the athletic department sells a lot of student tickets during winter break is a new occurrence. Everybody knows that schools sell those tickets — especially private schools that have a widespread student geographic distribution like Duke. The winter break ticket sales are irrelevant to the report. Mike Forman, the Director of Marketing & Promotions for Duke’s athletic department, said the move to sell the tickets has more to do with better estimates of undergraduate interest “based on opponent, day of the week, extracurricular activities, exam schedules, et cetera.” That estimated number of extra tickets are being sold first to Iron Dukes (Duke donors), then season ticket holders for women’s basketball and football, and, only then, to the general public. This is definitely the correct move. I wish the tickets were a little more reasonably priced (they’re $65 a pop), but the extra space shouldn’t go to waste.
There is also some confusion about the process for undergraduates who want to attend games. I can’t personally speak to the perception on campus, but Forman told me that they “have not turned away a single student who has tried to attend a game prior to tip-off this year,” and that the games are free for undergraduates to attend. It sounds like there’s still a perception amongst casual fans — a perception of which the athletic department is actively fighting — that the games are impossible to attend without showing up hours before tip-off or camping out. Specifically, this could turn off the more casual fans. The North Carolina game is obviously different — tenting is mandatory (including tent-checks) to reserve a spot for the game, but many other games have availability. One way the athletic department is looking to attract more students is through “theme games” like Greek Night against Davidson. These themes allow students and student groups to pre-register with line monitors (student liaisons with the athletic department), but still allow the first 250 students regardless of affiliation a first chance at seats.
Here’s the bottom line. Duke isn’t filling its student section completely with undergraduates — whether because students have different interests or a lack of effective communication from the athletic department to the student body. But those coveted seats are being filled by other fans and the environment at Cameron Indoor Stadium is still every bit as electric.