Bumped. Great ideas below the fold here. If other folks have thoughts please share them in comment threads or offer up your own thoughts in a fanpost. - BN Eds.
Traffic in LA sucks. Traffic (and parking) around Westwood sucks. More and more people have huge flat-screen TVs. So given the inconvenience of going to the games and the constantly improving home experience, how are you going to pack the arena?
I think it's by offering something people cannot get at home or in their sports bar. And what could that be? What is the one thing Pauley Pavilion can offer that no flat screen can, even in a raucous sports bar?
A crowd that includes 2,000 UCLA students stomping, clapping, cheering, shaking the arena from floor to ceiling, that's what. I think a lot of alumni would want to relive some of their college experience in the company of students who are really making their presence seen, heard and felt. Because THAT is an EVENT. An experience. A pulse-pounding, joyful, unforgettable couple of hours.
A louder, more rocking Pauley would also increase the homecourt advantage, leading to a better record, leading to higher demand for tickets, leading to higher revenues. And it would also re-connect alumni (and potential donors) to the university through a shared, more emotional experience.
Putting the students behind the basket or dividing students into three sections - with one section in the nosebleeds behind the basket - is not going to create that. Those seats up in the rafters are not great for cheering from. You kind of get lost up there, ESPECIALLY when the nosebleed seats are separated from the courtside seats by a whole section of people sitting on their hands snoozing through the game and then leaving early to beat the traffic.
But there are alternatives.
Some ideas that come to mind:
- Moving the faculty/staff seats: I do not see why Morgan Center could not move the faculty/staff seats up to the rafters and extend the student section around the corner where the faculty/staff seats are now. After all, a) faculty/staff are not big donors, b) as more cerebral folks, faculty and staff are going to be less put out by being in a more tranquil environment (but with better sight lines) than lower down, on the corner and c) just as a matter of principal, students should be closer to the court to cheer on their classmates.
- Put students behind the visitor's bench: Alternatively, one part of the student section could be right behind the visitor's bench, for example, and another section directly across. Could be great for call-and-response cheers and leading waves.
- Make it easier for students to go to the games: Making it easier to go to the games would also help. For example, why even have season tickets for students? Why not make it first come, first served? Why not let students into any unoccupied nosebleed seats 15 minutes before tipoff? Ticket holders should be told that if they don't show up, their seats will be given away. Why not let alumni buy into the student section on a stand-by basis when the students don't fill it?
And so on. I'm not claiming to have the answers. But I do think it's time to put everything on the table and take a creative look at the whole issue of game attendance.
Let's face it: Dan Guerrero and his brain trust are not all that competent, bless their hearts. These are the guys who think a team in the second-biggest media market in the country should split TV revenue equally with a team in BOULDER!
So it's no surprise that their quick fix for their fund-raising incompetence was to try to sell donors better seats to a worse experience. If the atmosphere in Pauley were more electric, though, season ticket holders would pay more to be there. If Morgan Center's scheme had gone into effect, there'd have been more atmosphere in a good sports bar. Pauley would have become a mausoleum.
Time for Dan Guerrero to get out of bean-counter mode (especially since his math skills are suspect) and think big!
This is my first Fan Post. I put together some thoughts from some comments I made during the past few weeks. I hope that's OK.