North Texas Daily

Student section changing for home football games

Student section changing for home football games

September 05
19:37 2014

Ehsan Azad / Staff Writer

Students going to Apogee Stadium for the first Mean Green home football game Saturday will find their usual seats in a different section, as a Conference USA rule concerning student seating comes into effect this year for North Texas.

Originally, the student section was situated right behind the visitor’s bench, but a C-USA regulation eliminates those seats for students. Now, students are not allowed to sit in seats that stretch between both 35-yard lines and five rows up. Students can sit anywhere beyond the first five rows. Athletic director Rick Villarreal said he isn’t a fan of the rule.

“I just didn’t think it was a good rule and I just believe we should put our students in the best seats we can,” Villarreal said.

Villarreal said he tried to get the rule changed, but he found opposition from the other C-USA member schools. They argued that students sitting behind the visitors bench would be too rowdy, but that didn’t make sense to Villarreal who thought they could be just as noisy in another section.

One of the reasons the rule change happened a year later was because the Mean Green joined C-USA late in the summer of 2013.

“The problem was that we had already sold season tickets and made plans on to where we were going to seat everybody, and we made the conference aware of that,” Villarreal said. “We couldn’t tell our students we weren’t going to seat them.”

Changing the rule for next season is one thing Villarreal wants to bring up next time he meets with the conference, especially after seeing other teams across college football allowing their students sit behind the visitor’s bench.

“If other schools are going to do that, I don’t see how our conference should be any different and allow our kids to sit behind the bench,” Villarreal said.

There could be resistance from other schools in the conference because the rule does benefit them financially. Using Marshall University as an example, Villarreal said schools that have 24,000 seats at their stadium sell their games out.

Those schools want to give premium seats to season-ticket holders and whatever is left over they give to student, most likely near the end zone.

“They rather not have a rule where it says a student could behind there because then their students will complain why North Texas students can sit behind the bench and we don’t,” Villarreal said.

To fill the void of the students and to help continue the same atmosphere of the student section, the athletic department will sell the old student section seats to young alumni. The seats in that area all have chair-backs and will be sold at a discounted alumni price.

Though the rule moves students further away from the field, players still think Apogee will provide a nice home field advantage.

“I don’t think it’s going to affect us that much. Our fans are great fans and will cheer no matter where they are,” sophomore linebacker Fred Scott said. “It would have been nice to keep them where they were, but we just got to abide by the rules.”

Fans of the Mean Green however are less than thrilled about the student-section being moved, especially incoming freshmen.

“The point of a student section is to make as much noise to faze out the other team because that is what college football is all about,” freshman computer engineering student Garrett Wilson said. “Moving them back kind of takes away the advantage of home-field.”

While he doesn’t approve of the move, Villarreal still thinks the home-field advantage will still be strong at Apogee. The Mean Green have gone 12-5 at home since Dan McCarney took over as head coach.

“I think students will pick up 10,000 tickets, so I don’t think 200 seats is going to make a difference when we are filling the other 10,000 seats with students,” Villarreal said.

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