Pioneers win games without fan support

In the three rows of this section, only eight seats are occupied at this basketball game at the University of Denver.

Despite being ranked the #1 athletic program in the entire country amongst universities without football teams, the University of Denver continues to have a lack of support at a myriad of its athletic events.

The athletic program at the University of Denver has an impressive resume that proudly displays its exceptional success. Home to 28 national championships, the Denver Pioneers have seen success throughout the entire program. Additionally, 108 student athletes throughout the history of the program have won individual national championships. The University of Denver’s athletic program possesses a rich in history of success that cover a significant span of time.

2011 marked the 4th consecutive year that the University of Denver was awarded with the prestigious Directors’ Cup. The cup exemplifies athletic success demonstrated by student athletes, and is awarded to the university that has amassed the most athletic achievements without a football team. Thanks to strong seasons put on by fall, winter, and spring teams, the Pioneers have held onto the award for four straight years.

Despite the success signified by the Directors’ Cup, sporting events continue to draw little fan support, especially amongst students. Chairs located in designated seating areas, such as the student section and the lower stands remain vacant throughout the duration of games, which have really caught the attention of many athletes.

From an athlete’s perspective 

“I think that the amount of support we get, regardless of the number, is always beneficial. However, it is a bit disappointing to be associated with a program so rich in hockey history and not have every seat filled night in and night out,” Freshman goaltender Juho Olkinuora said, “we still have to go out there and preform, but it makes a difference when every seat is filled with people cheering us, and their school, to a victory.”

Students feel “uninformed” of game days/game times

Programs, such as the hockey team, which have always posted phenomenal success throughout their history, have seen a dip in attendance this season. Students who attended the hockey campout to receive free season tickets have been known to say that they rarely attend the games.

“I have really only been to about two or three games,” freshman student Sam Bibbey said, “It’s not intentional, but going to games is not the first thing on my mind. I also don’t feel like the games are advertised at all. How are we supposed to know when we play, what time, and who? I would love to get a group of friends and go to all of the basketball, baseball, lacrosse, and hockey games, but I never know when they are. And when I do, I don’t feel like going alone.”

With a record amount of freshman students enrolled at the University of Denver this year, a correlation between rising attendance would be very comprehensible. Could the university be to blame for the low attendance rates?

Not enough room to cheer?

Magness Arena, located within the Ritchie Center, has a capacity of 7,200; a fairly small sized arena compared to the likes of many major Division 1 schools. Out of the 7,200 seats, approximately 150 are designated for the basketball student section. The university has only dedicated one section to students, which could potentially be a major factor in small attendances.

Only one section is dedicated to students for home basketball games at Magness Arena.

“The student section here at DU is just so small,” freshman basketball fan Chris Gang stated, “I feel like my high school student section made much more noise than this. I think a lot of people don’t want to go the games because there really isn’t anywhere to cheer. It almost feels as if it was designed for all parents and friends the way its set up. The student section at basketball games is so small and seemingly insignificant.”
Under head Coach Joe Scott, who is in his third year at the University of Denver, has his Pioneers off to a record breaking 15-5 start. This season, after 20 games, Soctt’s Pioneers lead the nation in field goal percentage. Games are being televised locally on the television network known as Root Sports multiple times per week. The Pioneers, who have been led by seniors Rob Lewis and Brian Stafford, junior Chase Hallam, and upcoming freshman point guard Brettt Olson, have received national recognition due to their exceptional play this season, and have caught the attention of major sports network ESPN, who has opted to fly out to Denver on the 4th of February to televise the game vs. Middle Tennessee.

No support for record breaking year

Despite the success the Pioneers have come across this season, Magness Arena has not seen an increase in attendance. Rather, the lone section designated for students is rarely full, and often times has students who are disinterested in the game. Seats throughout the arena remain empty, and many students around campus continue to neglect the season the Pioneers are having. Victories over notorious basketball schools, such as Saint Mary’s also haven’t increased attendance levels. The coverage of basketball games has been picked up by Root Sports television network, aiming to draw audiences down to Denver in order to watch the Pioneers as they make their run towards an NCAA tournament birth. However, this has remained unsuccessful, and only 6,232 people were in attendance for the victory over Western Kentucky on January 15.

Women’s basketball numbers have been even lower this season. Despite attempts to persuade the NCAA to consider senior Kateky Murdoch as an All-American player, the attendance vs. Western Kentucky on January 15 was 338 people, meaning that less than 5% of the seats were filled.

Time will only tell if attendance leves will rise as the teams continue to see success. In 2012, the Pioneers will begin to compete in the Western Athletic Conference rather than the Sun Belt Conference. By playing better opponents, it is possible that attendance levels will rise. Until then, the University of Denver will attempt to continue its winning ways, with or without, the support of their community.

One Response to Pioneers win games without fan support

  • gpeccolo
    gpeccolo says:

    I liked how you listed all of DU’s accolades, which makes it even more interesting that students wouldn’t come out to support all the highly successful teams. I went to a gymnastics meet last night and there was a very large crowd there, but most of them were from outside the university. I do think it’s important to note that there is fan support, just maybe not from the students.

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