Declining student attendance at Cameron results in new ticketing system

Updated: November 8, 2007, 7:21 PM ET
Associated Press

DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke's "Cameron Crazies" are known as some of the most committed -- never mind nuttiest -- fans in college basketball.

But while they'll set up a tent village to assure a spot in the stands for some home games, others have been so sparsely attended by undergraduates that the university has set up a new reservation system to encourage them to come.

"The attendance last year was pathetic in terms of fan support, and that's something we're trying to rectify this year," said Roberto Bazzani, a Duke senior who serves as head line monitor.

The new ticketing system allows students to reserve seats online for games at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Student attendance has been slipping over the past five years, and when the men's team finished 22-11 last year, more than half the home games were played before empty seats in the student sections.

"It was minimal at first, and then last year, it was a dramatic decrease," Bazzani said. "Last year, you could walk in 15 minutes after tipoff and still get great seats."

Even men's coach Mike Krzyzewski is worried by the empty seats.

"I get letters from people saying, 'How can I get in?' I said, 'Well, just come,'" Krzyzewski said. "I'm sure there are a lot of undergrads who feel they can't get in. So how do we tackle that?"

The system allows students to go online three days before most games to reserve a spot. Once validated, the student has to be at the stadium at least an hour before the game or the spot goes to someone in a walk-up line.

The tent village, fondly known as Krzyzewskiville, won't disappear. It'll still be in place for this year's big games against North Carolina and Maryland. And students can still camp out to be first in line for other games, because the seats are given on a first-come, first-served basis to those who have reservations.

"We wanted to be able to make the system easier for students," said Mitch Moser, the associate director of athletics who has worked with the students on the process. "They won't have to miss class, won't have to wait in line as long."

The arena seats 9,314 people and 1,200 tickets are reserved for students, who stand in bleachers along the sides of the court. The university has about 6,200 undergraduate students who can attend games for free.

Last year, some Duke games drew as few as 900 students, Bazzani said.

"I'm not going to say our record was miserable it wasn't," Bazzani said. "But Duke fans, we've been spoiled a little bit. We expect an Elite Eight every year, a run at an ACC championship.

"We've been spoiled, and people might take it for granted."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press