Representatives from the athletic department at the University of Richmond plan to move the student fan section of the Robins Stadium to the opposite end zone and change the game day atmosphere in the process.
After evaluating turnouts from the first season of on-campus football games, the biggest change to be implemented was the location and size of student seating, said Jana Ross, assistant athletic director for marketing and fan development. The student section, which has already been lifted from its previous location, will be moved to the opposite end zone so that students can easily see the videoboard, and also avoid the sunburns many walked away with last fall, she said.
Along with its relocation, the student riser will seat 1,200 instead of 1,600, leaving 400 in the end zone it occupied last fall, Ross said. "We weren't getting 1,600 students, so we wanted to make it closer to the numbers we were seeing," she said.
But a better reflection of student population size isn't the only benefit that will accompany the change. In reducing the number of student seats, Ross said she hoped to also enliven the home game atmosphere within the stadium by creating a more tightly packed, energized environment.
Jim Miller, the university's athletic director, agreed that the reduction in seat availability will only serve to enhance the overall atmosphere on game day.
"We want the right number of seats so students can fill their section," he said. "It doesn't help anybody to have empty seats in the student section."
Those empty seats are what gave the impression of low student attendance, but a more accurate depiction of student attendance might be conveyed when the seating changes are implemented, Miller said.
The planned change to the ticketing process might also help revive student enthusiasm.
Until midnight on the Monday before the game, students will be the only ones who can claim student section tickets, Ross said.
"After that, students can still claim tickets if they want, but we will also be actively selling those tickets to alumni and fans so it will be on a first-come, first-served basis," she said.
Some students are concerned that the changes will not supply the easy solution they are intended to.
"It was hard enough getting tickets to the game as it was, especially for the first game," said senior Nick Milley. "You'd have to log on the day they were available or you couldn't reserve them, but at least the sun will be at your back instead of your face."
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Another senior, Mike Schmittlein, agreed that the changes might present a problem for the first few games when attendance was generally higher.
But all these changes are intended to further the university's initial attempt to make it easier for students to attend games by building the on-campus stadium, an attempt which proved successful in looking at the numbers from last season, Miller said. The largest student crowd to show up at the old stadium was about 1,600, which is around the same number the new stadium is averaging, he said.
Despite these numbers, something that remains to be a problem is the tendency for many of these students to leave before halftime, a problem Ross said she hoped to find a solution for before the season begins.
As of now, the only solution relies on the hope that students will enjoy staying the full duration of the game as a result of their improved viewing situation, Miller said.
Although student seating has been the university's primary concern and biggest challenge, changes had been made throughout the fall as well, Miller said. To avoid endless concession lines, satellite stations were installed that worked with university dining services to help refresh fans during the game, he said.
Though no other immediate changes were being discussed, Ross said that they were always looking to improve things and would continue to adjust if they were presented with further problems.
Contact reporter Liz Aquilino at email@example.com
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