Photo Credit: University Communications
At the last Saints hockey game I attended versus Cornell, the student section was fired up and dressed for the whiteout themed night. As I sat in one of the jammed- packed rows, I noticed a growing disconcerting trend during the first period: students could not find seats or even comfortable standing room to watch the game. The result of this fan phenomenon was that students who did not have seats ended up leaving the game. The real shame of the whole situation was that there were still plenty of general admission seats available around the arena even on one of the most heavily advertised games of the year. When SLU circulates giant cardboard cutouts of the players around town and puts up giant banners promoting the game, one would expect all general admission tickets to sell out and yet they did not. Students could have easily filled all the empty seats.
The reasoning behind a reserved student section is very clear: students get in to the game for free and the University makes money selling general admission tickets for the rest of the non-student seating. Free seating for students theoretically comes with the opportunity cost of fewer tickets sold, or does it? Currently, the setup of Appleton Arena is not socially efficient. Non-students never fill out the rest of the arena unless it is a Clarkson game, so expanding the student section would make the general admission seating fill up to near its maximum capacity while maintaining the number of tickets sold. Students would then be able to have more seats and not have to stand in the outer walkways. The hockey team would probably love to have a bigger looking and higher energy student section.
Hockey games are a unifying event for the SLU student body. Games are a pertinent memory for many alumni, so giving students the best experience will help keep the future SLU alumni more connected to the school. Letting more students get a seat at a game without showing up an hour early would make going to hockey games and staying for the whole time more enticing. If the University is so concerned about the monetary losses from additional student seating, they could offer alumni to put their name on row in the expanded student section if they donate a certain amount. I am sure many alumni would be thrilled at the opportunity to contribute to the hockey program. What is SLU hockey without the rowdy and passionate students there anyway?