Daniel Chi / Asst. photo editor
Below freezing temperatures kept many Ohio State students indoors over the weekend, but the cold weather couldn’t keep some diehard Buckeye fans from the promise of front-row seats.
Heaters, plenty of layers and a little bit of electricity help fans like Dustin Stinson, a fourth-year in sport and leisure studies, gather before men’s basketball games in the tented city known as “Mattaritaville.”
The tented city typically ranges in size between 10 and 25 tents leading up to a game, Stinson said. Stinson estimated that on Sunday, there were about 10 tents and 30 people camped out for the game.
As the Jimmy Buffet’s song “Margaritaville” played, which the tented city’s name is derived from, Stinson said withstanding the cold temperatures has been worth it each of the six occasions he’s done it.
“I wouldn’t keep doing it if it wasn’t worth it. But to be down in the front and be right behind the other team’s bench is (great),” Stinson said Friday. “We feel like we have an impact on the game because if they’re thinking about what we’re yelling at them for five seconds, then that’s five seconds that takes them away from focusing on the game.”
Stinson was camped out in a new tent for Sunday’s game against Indiana.
“I went and bought this tent yesterday (Thursday) … I have 11 layers on right now, so I’m not even really that cold,” said Stinson, who set up camp on Thursday afternoon after getting out of class.
His was the fifth tent in line.
Zach Bickett, a second-year in logistics management and marketing, was second in line with his tent, set up on Wednesday at about 12:30 p.m., roughly 96 hours before he could begin chanting and yelling at Indiana’s coach, Tom Crean, and his players. In order to do that, though, Bickett said he has made some necessary purchases to get through those long hours before tipoff.
“I actually just got an air mattress … We’ve also got 0 Degree sleeping bags which are the biggest, best purchase I’ve ever made in my life,” Bickett said Friday.
Bickett said he and other residents of Mattaritaville benefit from using the Schottenstein Center’s Wi-Fi, electricity and indoor bathrooms.
Stinson said an usher sits outside the rotunda to let campers in the building to use the restroom when necessary.
“They also keep any leftover brats and hotdogs. They do a really good job of taking care of us,” Stinson said.
Jay Short, third-year in human nutrition, was lined up outside the Schottenstein Center Sunday morning but did not camp out for the game.
“I’ve always had class and stuff … I’m jealous. If I had a tent, everything, no exams … I’d do this without a doubt,” Short said.
Stinson and Bickett said it was excusable to leave the tents for class or to get food, and the basic principle is to have someone in the tent at all times, a common courtesy most Mattaritaville residents respected.
Staying in the tent overnight, Bickett said, is a must, but sleep is hard to come by.
“People will come by and they just yell and we’re like, ‘Oh yeah, we’re here,'” Bickett said Friday. “It’s not even good sleep. Hopefully with this air mattress I can get five hours.”
OSU lost the Sunday game, 81-68, but Stinson, who ended up with a seat close to Indiana’s bench, said he didn’t regret waiting out in the cold for so long.
“I would not have done anything different,” he said. “If we won, that would’ve been more rewarding than how much it sucks that we lost.”
Bickett, who ended up sitting in the front row about three feet from Crean, said he doesn’t have any regrets either.
“I think it’s still worth it. I guess at the end of the day you look back and say, ‘It’s all or nothing,'” he said. “It’s more the experience of it when you still get those seats.”