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First home game has small student turnout

Claire C. Laurence/Arizona Daily Wildcat
A UA fan looks up from the student section during the introduction of Virginia's starting lineup while other fans pretend to be distracted and yawn into open newspapers. Many students crowded the courtside seats, but left the upper levels nearly vacant during last night's 81-51 win over the Cavaliers in McKale Center.
By Katie Miller
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, November 28, 2005
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Thanksgiving holiday may have been factor

Even though yesterday marked the first regular-season home game for the UA men's basketball team, the line for students wanting to occupy the new student section in McKale Center was less than expected, according to on-site security.

Only about 75 students lined up at the northwest entrance to McKale Center at 1 p.m., the earliest time ticket-holders could begin waiting for the game, which began at 5 p.m.

Students attending men's basketball games this season are sectioned on the north side of McKale Center instead of being dispersed throughout the arena.

"It raises the spirit and gets people more excited," said Colbi Brown, a senior majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology.

Security guard Donna Shelby said she was surprised to see so few students waiting, especially on a day when no classes were scheduled. She said the turnout was roughly equal to those seen at the team's exhibition home games in the last couple of weeks.

A contributing factor, Shelby said, might have been the Thanksgiving holiday because many students were still out of town. As the season goes on, the line should fill up more quickly, she said.

"The real test for the student turnout will be the next major home game," Shelby said.

But the die-hard fans who were in town lined up hours before the game started to get a good seat.

Senior Brian Leahy said he arrived at 12:30 p.m. and was the first person in line.

"We wanted front-row seats for the first home game," Leahy said.

Those who showed up early also had another incentive: The first 700 students to arrive got a wristband for the lower-level section.

"It's a sacrifice to get here early, but it's worth getting our own section and great seats," said Adam Collins, an undeclared sophomore.

Nick Vanslyke, a media arts freshman, said at first he wanted to camp out Saturday night but decided it was too cold. Instead, he showed up yesterday at 12:45 p.m. and was still one of the first people in line.

To pass time while waiting, students came prepared with things to do. Some did homework, listened to music or played card games. Others just sat and talked to the people around them.

"You meet a lot of people," said Emily Lucht, a pre-health education sophomore.

Students who left the line were not allowed to return to their spots but instead had to go to the back. Some who waited had food, including pizzas and submarine sandwiches, delivered to them on the spot.

Shelby said security outside McKale Center had less trouble with the mass of students waiting in line than they did with students having their CatCards and tickets, both of which are necessary for admission.

Many students lamented they received only one ticket per home game but countered their loneliness in line by waiting with friends.

"I wish I had another ticket so I could bring someone, but I meet people and always have a good time," Lucht said.

Collins agreed, saying that die-hard fans like himself will show up no matter what.

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