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Football's student section capped

CHRIS CODUTO/Arizona Daily Wildcat
UA students packed the ZonaZoo section at the Wildcat football team's season-opening, 21-7, victory over Northern Arizona two weeks ago at Arizona Stadium.
By Brett Fera
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, September 17, 2004
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Lower-level section filled; reserved seats available

The UA athletics department, along with Associated Students of the University of Arizona, has placed a cap on student seat availability for Wildcat football games in the Zona Zoo student section of Arizona Stadium.

Hundreds of students had to be rerouted to open sections of the stadium because a greater number than initially anticipated showed up for last weekend's game between the Wildcats and visiting University of Utah, said Russell Dean, director of sales for the UA athletics department.

"It's a great problem to have," Dean said. "But we're trying to move forward because last game we had an issue with just the sheer number of people in the student section. We definitely went over capacity."

Students who purchase a Zona Zoo pass by 5 p.m. today will still have the opportunity to sit in the designated Zona Zoo student section with many of their peers.

But those who buy passes after today's deadline, or who intend to buy single game student football tickets at $7 each, will only be able to receive reserved seats elsewhere in Arizona Stadium, beginning with tomorrow's 1 p.m. game with the nationally ranked Badgers of the University of Wisconsin, instead of general admission entry, Dean said.

Reserved seats for students would most likely be located in the north and south end zones and at the corners of the upper east side of the stadium, Dean said, also noting that even if the designated student area doesn't fill up, those with reserved tickets will not be able to get into the student section.

"I think the fact that we're seeing these increased sales is a testament to the fact that students are interested in sports other than basketball," said student body president Alistair Chapman.

Today's 5 p.m. deadline is also the cutoff point for students to be entered in the lottery for lower-level men's basketball tickets.

"We were pushing 11,000 tickets in that area," Dean said of football student section attendance last week. There are 9,200 seats in the UA student section, which runs the entire bottom level of the east side of the stadium, Dean said. "There's really like 8,800 tickets, or seats, that can be purchased, because the band gets 400."

Dean added that the primary concern is the safety of fans in the designated student area, spanning sections 101-110 of the stadium.

"We had to come up with a plan that makes sense for everybody involved, and doesn't break any fire codes or anything," Dean said.

"Nobody will be turned away," said Chris Del Conte, UA associate athletic director for sports programs and operations. "We're just going to find other places to put them."

Chapman said he's glad any student who wishes will be able to attend the games, but that the overcrowding is a sign of the success of the Zona Zoo program.

"It's just a tangible example of what ASUA has worked hard at for its students," Chapman said.

Dean estimates that nearly 2,500 single-game, walk-up tickets were sold for last week's game and approximately 9,130 Zona Zoo passes have been sold so far.

Students with Zona Zoo passes are also given the opportunity to purchase two guest tickets per game, but any guest tickets bought after today will only be able be in reserved areas, not the Zona Zoo section, Dean said, adding that students will be able to obtain reserved seats - if they desire - next to their guests.

Forty-eight thousand tickets - including Zona Zoo passes - have been sold to date for tomorrow's game between the UA and Wisconsin, and Dean estimates that another 5,000 fans bought individual tickets for last week's game.

Seating capacity at Arizona Stadium is 56,000.

James Francis, director of marketing for the UA athletics department, said that the increased interest in student tickets is attributed to the changes head coach Mike Stoops has brought to the UA football program since he was hired nine months ago.

"There's just a lot of excitement in general," Francis said. "You look at the general public tickets. For those first two games it took us until the second quarter to get everybody seated inside."

"Having a full student section is so exciting in the stadium," Francis said. "We have in football what all the students have been hoping to get in basketball. You look at Oregon and all these schools that have students at midcourt in basketball - we have that in football. They're going to look to us and say, 'Wow, why can't we have a student section like Arizona's?'"

Last year, 7,800 Zona Zoo passes were sold, with this year's total topping that before the UA football team's first game two weeks ago, Dean said.

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