At the behest of new Alabama Basketball Coach Avery Johnson, some of those good seats are going to be occupied by University students beginning this season. After what was described as “months of extensive research and analysis,” the athletics department said the reconfiguration plan would be implemented “with the primary focus aimed at creating a more exciting environment and to help get the student-body more involved at the men’s basketball games.”
“Our goal in this initiative is to improve the fan experience for all of our great basketball fans,” said Bill Battle, Alabama director of athletics. “I believe our students will respond favorably to our challenge to them to help us develop the most exciting game day atmosphere in the SEC, and a true home court advantage in Coleman Coliseum. Bringing them closer to the action will not only add to their ability to encourage our team, but will also add enthusiasm that only students can generate to further excite our fan base. And it will definitely enhance the bond that already exists between our players and the student body.”
The changes were decided upon after a study of vibrant on-campus basketball arenas from around the Southeastern Conference and around the nation, along with thorough discussions and planning. One of the key findings was that Alabama was one of the only schools in the SEC lacking a large number of available seats for students in close proximity to the court.
“One of the first things I noticed, and wanted to change, upon my hiring at The University of Alabama was to improve the fan experience at Coleman Coliseum, especially for our students,” Johnson said. “We have a large population of on-campus students and we want them to create the type of environment that’s needed and seen at the highest level. We are excited for this transition and we appreciate everyone’s support and understanding throughout this process.”
The plan calls for the current student section (located on the West side baseline toward the visiting team bench in sections V, W and X) to be moved to the first two sections across from the visiting bench (sections R and S) and wrap around the Southwest corner (sections T, U and V). With that, students will be relocated so they are closer to the floor “in order to have more impact and help create an exciting home court environment,” according to the announcement.
While the change will obviously affect some ticket holders, it is reasonable to suggest that there could never have been a better time than now when season ticket sales have obviously fallen off. While the play of the Crimson Tide under Anthony Grant gets much of the blame, there have been other factors, including inconvenient midweek game starting times that inhibit families and out-of-town fans from attending games that are being televised.
“Students love to use body paint, to dress in costumes, and other things like that in order to see themselves on television,” Johnson said. “Their preference is to be close to the court where they can be seen and feel like they are helping their team. It puts them in a better position to cheer for our Crimson Tide team and against our opponent. We feel this is the start of creating a better environment at our games for our students.”
Due to the restructuring of the student section, network television cameras will move to the North side of Coleman Coliseum in order to shoot into the student section. As a result, the Coleman Coliseum floor will be repainted.
Questions and Answers About 2015-16 Alabama Men’s Basketball Student Section Seating Changes
Q. What changes for the 2015-16 Men’s Basketball Season are to be implemented?
Students will now occupy Sections R and S from row 1 to row 32. Students will continue to occupy Sections T, U, and the upper half of V, along with floor seating in FL-K and FL-W.
Q. Specifically what customers will be affected?
-Section R (Rebounder) / Section R (Passer)
-Section S (Faculty/Staff)
Q. Why are these changes being made?
-To create a better game atmosphere
-To get the students more involved to create a better home court advantage
Q. If I currently have seats in Section R or Section S, what are my seating options?
-Rebounder/Passer (Section R) customers will have comparable options in Section W or other similar Tide Pride areas.
-Faculty/Staff (Section S) ticket holders will have seating options in the top half of Sections W or X, or the lower rows of Section V.
Q. How and when will I submit my Tide Pride Seat Change Request and payment?
-You will receive a seat change request/Tide Pride renewal letter by August 1 with your options. Please complete and mail back to our office for processing.
-You will also receive an email with the ability to submit your payment/request online in the next 1-2 weeks
Q. When will I know my seat locations for this season?
-Seat locations will be offered and finalized in late September after our season ticket renewal deadline
Q. Will there be further changes next season?
-No decisions have been finalized for next season but there is a possibility that we will have further changes in the coming seasons