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Fans Turned Away at Men’s Basketball Game Despite Empty Seats

If Penn State wants excitement around its basketball program, turning away dozens at the door to a matinee game that wasn’t sold out doesn’t seem like a great way to start.

There were numerous reports that eager fans were not able to purchase tickets for Saturday’s game at the Bryce Jordan Center against Purdue, despite the entire upper deck being curtained off, with many open seats remaining in the lower deck.

In an email, the team’s SID Alissa Clendenen explained the seating arrangement at the BJC, clarifying that it was not Coach Chambers’ decision to restrict access to additional seating in the upper deck. The new policy seems like a strange atmosphere-for-revenue tradeoff which left many fans going home sour.

“In an effort to completely fill the lower bowl of the Jordan Center, get the fans closer to the floor and improve the atmosphere, it was determined prior to the start of the season to not open the upper seating sections,” Clendenen wrote. “We will continue to discuss this policy as we analyze advance ticket sales and walk-up projections for each of the remaining games individually. The best option is for our fans is to secure their seats early as capacity may be limited for some games.”

“We’re trying to create a demand,” Chambers said after the game. “We need the lower bowl filled, so that surprises me that anybody was turned away. There were plenty of seats empty, so that’s disappointing.”

But Chambers maintained that he’d rather have the upper deck closed and instead fill the lower bowl.

“When we open up the top curtain, there’s no home court advantage,” he said. “I want to push everyone that I can to the court to give us the extra energy we might need.”

“I apologize to those that didn’t get in, but I hope you’ll come back,” he said.

That might be a hard sell. After Penn State’s 12-1 start, the Nittany Lions have dropped five straight to open Big Ten play. Saturday’s listed attendance was 8,949.

UPDATE 8:21 p.m. — Penn State basketball released another statement on the seating snafu. The program is offering free tickets and parking reimbursement for any fan who was turned away at Saturday’s game, and has also committed to selling additional tickets when it appears the lower bowl will be entirely filled. It’s worth including in its entirety, and a kudos to Penn State basketball for amending the policy and making things right for everyone.

Penn State Athletics would like to apologize to those fans that made the trip to the University Park Campus, intending to attend our men’s basketball game vs. Purdue University, and were turned away. Collegiate athletics provides a unique experience, one that is not possible without our passionate alumni, fans and students, and that experience was limited on Saturday.

In an attempt to create an intimate atmosphere in the Bryce Jordan Center, and provide as much as a home court advantage as possible, we implemented a decision made before the season to not open the upper level curtain on game day. Capacity in the lower bowl was reached after gates opened on Saturday, which led to approximately 30 fans being turned away at the box office.

Penn State Athletics intends to create opportunities for as many fans as possible to support our Nittany Lions and we acknowledge that we missed that objective on Saturday. Because of this, we will offer any fan that was turned away on Saturday two (2) complimentary tickets to the 2014-15 regular season home game of their choice, based on availability. Additionally, any fan who purchased parking and was unable to attend the game will receive a $5 refund to cover this cost. These fans can claim both their complimentary tickets and parking refund by calling 1-800-NITTANY, weekdays from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Fans are asked to please make their complimentary ticket or parking refund request by 5 p.m. on Monday, February 2.

We will continue to monitor ticket sales leading up to all home men’s and women’s basketball games this season. We maintain that the best atmosphere in the Bryce Jordan Center is achieved by first filling the lower bowl before seating fans in the upper level. As was our intention, we will monitor ticket distribution and, based on historical data and anticipated walk-up, make a decision at least one day in advance as to whether the curtain in the upper bowl will be raised.
Once ticket sales reach capacity in the lower bowl, then tickets will be sold for the upper seating areas.

Penn State Athletics greatly values the resources that we are able to provide our student-athletes because of the deep support of alumni and fans. Without this ongoing passion and commitment we would not be able to provide all we do for our 31 programs and 850 student-athletes and we want to thank our dedicated Penn Staters for your important role in the their academic and athletic success.

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About the Author

Ben Berkman

State College, PA

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