Marriott Center change draws BYU student reaction

The announcement today of changes to the Marriott Center seating is sure to be a change that draws some passion from many fans, in particular students, who have yet to measure what they get in person from behind the west baskets.

What many of these students say right now is they are disappointed with the change but understand it opens up more revenue with season ticket holders given more choices and prices to shell out money.

Here is a sampling of some reaction I collected from students on Friday after the announcment.   It is representative of others who expressed their opinons at my request.

 Andrew Tolman: ” I am really upset with the new seating. I love watching the game from the side view I feel like the students are getting the shaft by being sent to the ends of the court. I am more interested in watching the game from good seating over being a noise influence behind the opposing teams seating. Tom Holmoe says they put a lot of thought into moving the student section but it doesn’t take a lot of thought to realize that the big spenders who will pay for those seats will want the best seating and you need to move the students over in order to make room for the people with money. BYU is just now starting to get a good student tradition in terms of basketball and now they are changing everything in order to make more money. And the price for an all sports pass will still continue to rise never mind all the money we supposedly made by going independent.

Thanks for listening to my rant. I hope it gives you an idea about how students feel about these changes and I hope you can make our voice heard.

Taylor Acton:  “As a student at BYU, I am (predictably) upset with the changes announced to the Marriott Center.  I think that it is wonderful that the athletic department is investing in the building.  The basketball teams have more than earned the respect they are receiving, and investment in the MC is a great way to thank them.  However, as has become the norm in college athletics, I feel money/revenue scored another victory over tradition.  The strongest asset the MC possessed was a large, boisterous, rowdy student section that stretched the length of the court, heckling players from end-to-end on every possession. No, we weren’t sitting behind the baskets in prime free-throw-distraction territory. That didn’t matter.  Teams came in, played, and lost. Time and time again.  As they sat on their bench they had no choice but to stare directly in the face of 5,000 students decked in white.  It was intimidating.  Literally half of the building stood in front of them, screaming and cheering from tip-off to the final whistle.

“I’ve read a lot of reactions to the news today.  I’m actually shocked to find out that so many BYU fans believe that more revenue from season tickets will equate to home dominance and victories.  I guess I cannot see that through my tradition-colored glasses.  What has worked for BYU in the past would surely work for BYU in the future. Now we enter uncharted territory.  The students will be squeezed into the west end, the vast majority of whom will be further from the floor than last year.  Many of the intimidating features of the seating at the MC will be gone.  5,000 young, energetic, LOUD students will be replaced by older, more subdued folks who may give it their all, but they just can’t match the enthusiasm of the students.  Yeah, we’ll do our best to give opposing teams the business during the second half when they shooting at our basket, but the first half won’t have that same intimidation.  I read one person’s opinion on the renovation that made me shake my head.  He stated that the magic of the BYU-SDSU game in 2011 had nothing to do with the passion of the fans and student section–it had everything to do with an All-American named Jimmer. Yes, Jimmer and the boys won that game.  But its magic, the distinguishing factor that sets that game apart from every other game at BYU, was the passion, and energy, and volume created by the fans.  If you were to replay that game in an empty high-school gym, absent any spectators, it becomes ‘just another game.’

“Finally, it hurts me to accept the fact that money rules college sports these days, even at BYU.  Tom Holmoe can pose it however politely he would like to, but the change in seating arrangement is purely financial.  We don’t need to be fed garbage about how our student section compares favorably to those at Louisville, Florida St, or Texas A&M.  We had a better student section arrangement than they did! Why should we change to become more like them? ”

” The Cameron Crazies at Duke (obviously the best in CBB) stretch the floor from end-line to end-line.  Why should BYU try telling us that becoming more like Florida State’s student section is better than being like Duke’s? If they’re going to change it, fine, but please spare us the lame attempts to justify it.  Just say that you made the change to make more money, and let us deal with it.

Thank you for providing me with a platform to get my thoughts off my chest.  I could go on, but this is as politely as I could write my feelings.”

J. Mason Nordfelt:  “I have had an all-sports pass for 2 years and have absolutely loved going to all the games, especially football and basketball.  I’m usually there anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours early for B-Ball games, and always have had great seats.  It’s obviously a little disappointing being moved from sideline to baseline, but very understandable.  It’s better basketball-wise (on visitors’ offensive side of the court for 2nd half), and the front row is actually a little closer to the court.  Considering the incredible deal we get on the tickets I can’t complain.”

David Stauffer:  “I am a student at BYU and I am deeply disappointed with the newly announced Marriott Center renovations.

“Moving the student section further from the court seems like a bad way to reward the BYU students who have been so faithful. I understand the desire to remove benches and put in more seats, but at what cost? So we can have wealthier non-student BYU fans sitting closer to the court? People who generally remain seated throughout the game?

“There’s a reason why the Spectrum at Utah State is such a difficult place for opponents to play. They put the students front and center, which can be menacing for visiting teams.

“BYU made a move that could cause the Marriott Center to lose much of it’s intensity. I’m really, really sad to see this.”

Heath Waddingham:  “I’ve been a student at BYU since 2003, and I’m currently at the law school.

“As students, we’ve been spoiled to have access to some of the best seats in the Marriott Center.  I had tickets on about the tenth row for Jimmer vs. SDSU, and having full vision of the entire court?  That made it one of my favorite BYU athletics experiences of all time.  I understand how the school’s obligations to legacies and the opportunity to sell those seats makes moving the student section desirable or necessary.  I even understand how it may be beneficial to the team to put students right next to the opposing bench to yell mildly rude comments (let’s face it; a lot of what BYU students say at games is tame) at the enemy, or to put them behind the opposing teams basket to mess with opposing shooters at the end of a game.  But from my point of view, I’m going to miss having the great seats.

“I also bet new students who won’t ever sit in a sideline student section won’t care, just because they will never have had the experience.  But for those of us who are already here and are being moved from sideline to the baseline, it will likely take the experience down a notch.”

Feel free to add your opinion in the comment section of this blog.


One comment

  1. Andrew Hutchins

    I’m not surprised. When it comes down to it, we have some of the most fair weather fans in all of college athletics. This is especially true for basketball. No one will show up for some weaker WCC opponents, but when Baylor comes to town we suddenly have 5,000 “loyal” cougars. We are just fortunate that we are keeping the same number of seats. If we packed it every single night, I guarantee that we wouldn’t have been moved.

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