With only a few days of practice under its belt, the Stanford men’s basketball team already has one major change to announce for the year ahead — admission for all students to the Sixth Man section for the 2010-2011 season will be free of charge, according to the director of the Sixth Man Club. Previously the only Stanford sport that required students to purchase tickets, men’s basketball games will now be accessible to all students with an SUID.
While members of the Sixth Man Committee have had distant hopes of a cost-free student section, it was the diligence of head coach Johnny Dawkins that finally enabled the change to transpire, said Joel Sandler ‘11, club director.
“It was something always thrown around as a way to make the section as inclusive as possible, but it was difficult for us to make happen as students,” said Sandler in an e-mail to The Daily. “It took Coach Dawkins pushing for this change to make it a reality. Since coming to Stanford, he has been a huge supporter of the student section and made numerous efforts to reach out to us fans.”
Space has not been an issue for students hoping to stand in the Sixth Man section for the past several seasons — for the most part, students could arrive at tip-off and receive a decent spot — but with the new admission policy, students are encouraged to arrive at games well in advance.
In addition, the Sixth Man plans to implement a loyalty points system, similar to the Red Zone system, which will reward attendance at the preseason games in the fall with priority to the lower section for the Pac-10 games in the winter. Though some students may be guaranteed better seats with the point system, the Sixth Man Club expects to house all students who come out, even if it means getting creative.
“While the Sixth Man has had some tremendous student turnouts in the past, with these changes in place, we may have to find additional sections of Maples Pavilion to expand to,” Sandler said. “Know that we are committed to not turning any student away.”
In the past, the Sixth Man section has offered numerous incentives to boost student attendance and reward its paying members, including free shirts, Chipotle burritos, posters, barbecues and hand towels. Although Sixth Man membership will now be extended to the entire student body, Sandler is confident that the benefits will remain.
“A major thing that concerned me about the section being free was that our members might lose some of the great perks to cover the loss of ticket revenue,” he said. “The exciting part about the change, though, is that it is backed by some very generous donors, who care about rewarding our fans. We will be greatly expanding our perk system this year with door prizes for every student that comes early, great raffles [like] trips to Vegas and, of course, food.”
Additionally, students who have already purchased their Sixth Man memberships for the coming season will receive their money back in full and also qualify for added goodies, as a thank you for their loyalty to the team.
“We will refund them, and if they put the charge on their University bill, we will remove it,” Sandler explained. “We will also issue them cards granting special deals and giveaways on game days such as first choice of seating and sweet raffle prizes — think iPad! The message we want to send is that we appreciate your love of Stanford basketball.”
Sandler, currently a co-term, hopes that with the free student admission, this year’s Sixth Man section will be reminiscent of the jam-packed student sections that he remembers from his first couple of years on the Farm.
“My single favorite Stanford memory is being at Maples Pavilion when Stanford came back from a 17-point deficit to beat 18-1 UCLA my freshman year,” he recalled. “Imagine over 800 students standing courtside, screaming, jumping, taunting, crowd-surfing and most importantly, helping our team overcome. This is the environment Coach Dawkins, our donors and the athletic department want to create at Maples Pavilion, and these are the kinds of memories I know we can make this year.”
Jeff LaMere from Stanford Athletics’ men’s basketball operations and several members of the team were contacted for comment, but were unable to be reached prior to the time of publication.