Richmond Athletics is offering a chance to win front-row tickets to the men's basketball game against Virginia Commonwealth University through its new “Protect oUR City Rewards” program. 

The rules are simple: Attend three of the next five Atlantic 10 games to gain access to the exclusive seating. 

Other benefits, such as raffles for gift cards and various prizes, will be held for the rewards section. The greater number of games students attend, the closer they can sit to the front of the section and the greater the likelihood of winning a prize.

“The VCU game is the big driver for our basketball season, so we wanted to find a way to incorporate some sort of rewards program in order to spread awareness about our current A-10 season,” said senior Tim Wing, a marketing intern for Richmond Athletics. 

The goal is to fill the student section for the VCU game. The section will be inaccessible for those who do not previously attend three A-10 games. 

Each year the VCU game is heavily supported by UR students. Wing said he hoped to spread that energy through all A-10 games. 

“These are really important games for our team because they are conference games,” Wing said.

Ashley Yencho, assistant director of athletics for marketing, echoed Wing. 

“We love when students come because they’re huge propellers for the entire arena,” Yencho said. “Our fans heavily lean on our students to make noise and start chants.”

Richmond Athletics made previous attempts to boost attendance by eliminating the need to reserve tickets in advance. A student ID grants access to the student section of every home game.

Yencho and the athletics department have worked to provide an entertaining experience, but participation must stem from the students, she said. 

"We’re here to help our students have fun and be Spiders, but at the end of the day we can’t make them come to things,”  Yencho said.

Many larger schools use similar incentives to encourage student attendance but implement expensive software tools to track intricate point systems. The “Protect oUR Rewards” program is a step in this direction, Wing said.

“Eventually we could do that, but we wanted to start off with something smaller-scale first to gauge the student body and see if they are willing to jump into a student rewards program,”  Wing said.

Wing said he worked with all teams at UR and men's basketball games have had the highest attendance. 

“If the program goes well, we want to expand it to all of our teams in order to make sure they get the attendance they would love from students,” Wing said.

The Spiders' next A-10 home game is Saturday, Jan. 26 against the St. Bonaventure University Bonnies. 

Contact sports writer Jackson McAtee at jackson.mcatee@richmond.edu