Despite continuous requests for more student seating in the Horseshoe, OSU President E. Gordon Gee said he wants to see more support for other Buckeye sports before he will consider upping the allotment of student football tickets.
With that goal in mind, the university announced in late August it will move 800 of the student seats at the Schottenstein Center from behind the baskets to behind the benches and scorer’s table for some men’s basketball games in the upcoming season.
“We need to create an environment in which our basketball programs have the same kind of intensity as our football program or other things,” Gee told The Lantern on Oct. 6. “So we needed to make the change, too, because the students made a very important point to me, ‘Well you know if you’re just sitting behind there and (they) have you sitting there in the middle, you’re not a very good fan, Mr. President.'”
Gee took the students’ words to heart, as he and fellow faculty members will vacate their previous seats behind the benches for all-Big Ten contests and an additional non-conference game this season to make room for what Gee hopes to be a more boisterous NutHouse student section.
“Now I have every expectation that we’re going to have a ring of fire around our court and I’ll be very disappointed if every game is not sold out by our students,” Gee said.
So far, so good.
When men’s basketball tickets were released last week, tickets sold out in two hours.
Although the 1,400 tickets available to students this year were a drop from last year’s total, senior forward David Lighty said the move could provide a big boost for the team.
“I think that’s going to help us out a lot,” Lighty said. “We feed off the crowd. Big plays happen and they are loud and rowdy. … That’s just going to get us excited. I think it’s going to be a good thing for us.”
Schools such as the University of Michigan and Michigan State University already have a similar type of seating arrangement. Lighty said he is glad OSU pulled the trigger on the adjustment.
“You go to Michigan State and they have a whole student section in the bottom bowl, and my parents are sitting with the students going crazy,” Lighty said. “It’s a more suitable atmosphere for college basketball and something that gives the fan a better experience and makes them want to come and get more excited.”
As the students move closer to the action than ever before, senior guard Jon Diebler said he hopes they will have the arena rocking.
“I think we have a great student fan base,” Diebler said. “I think they are excited about the new seating because I think they might feel more into the game instead of being on the ends.”
Having become accustomed to verbal lashings from opposing student sections, junior guard William Buford said he hopes the seating change will entice the Buckeye students to return the favor to visiting squads.
“I don’t really pay attention to them too much, but I hope that it will mess with the opposite team,” Buford said. “We get dogged everywhere we go, so they need to do something.”