The VCU fanbase is growing faster than ever. With their basketball team’s success and escalation in publicity, rankings and recruiting, the arena they play in is beginning to look inadequate.
The Stuart C. Siegel Center opened in 1999 and it used to serve as a sports arena and training facility, as well as the student gym. Costing $30.1 million to build, the center was a great host for sporting events and students at the time. As the university grew and became more reputable, a new gym was built and the Siegel Center only hosted training facilities for athletes and the arena for games.
VCU’s student body size is over 32,000 and the Siegel center arena has 7,500 seats. With only 500 of those seats reserved specifically for students per game, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult for Rams fans to attend games.
Those 500 seats are usually filled up by the “Rowdy Rams” which is a student fan membership with limited spots. In past years the Rowdy Rams passes sold out in weeks, but this past season they sold out in record time: less than 12 hours. In addition, the passes were $10 more than they were previously priced. With the basketball team’s successes over the past four years under head coach Shaka Smart, one can only predict these numbers will keep going up. To put this in perspective, VCU’s student attendance was 573 for the 1999-00 season and was 1,096 for the 2011-12 season.
VCU’s student section won the Naismith Student Section of the Year last season and with dedication like this, students should have more seats to attend games. In 2011 luxury suites were added for $3.4 million and these suites aren’t geared towards students.
One of the great qualities about VCU student fans is their high volume of noise which earned them the student section of the year and which also gives the team a great home-court advantage. VCU basketball is strong not only because of the team’s talent but because of the die-heart fans who stand behind them.
Plans for the Siegel center, still to be unveiled, include increasing seating to 10,000 plus standing room. These arrangements are supposed to be started in 2013, but with January right around the corner Ram fans can only hope for more room to support their team.