Following an opening two weeks to 2023 that shattered student attendance records and left many others waiting at the doors, changes are coming to the way Northwestern students get into Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Northwestern Athletics announced Friday that students will now have to fill out a form to request tickets ahead of time in order to reserve a seat at men’s basketball games in Welsh-Ryan Arena. Around two days prior to the game, students will get an email sent to their inboxes with a link to submit a ticket request. Once students are notified they have a ticket reserved, they will have their tickets sent to them in advance and be able to enter up to 30 minutes before tip-off. After the 30-minute threshold is passed, tickets will be given to waiting students on a first-come first-serve basis.
For example, if a game starts at 8 p.m., students with tickets reserved will have from the time the doors open at 6:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. to redeem their tickets at the entrance. If the student has not redeemed their reserved ticket by half an hour before the game, the spot will become available for students waiting at the doors to get in on a first-come first-serve basis. With the student section having been nearly full by 7:15 p.m. the last two games anyway, this figures to not be too large of a difference from when students normally arrived to the game to get a good spot in the stands or the Wildside giveaway. This policy is guaranteed to be in effect for the Wildcats’ next home game against Wisconsin, although it doesn’t rule out changes in the future.
The change looks to ensure a situation like Jan. 4’s game against Illinois does not occur again, where hundreds of Northwestern students were rumored to have been left waiting at the doors to Welsh-Ryan Arena. After Wednesday’s match with Rutgers resulted in a record number of students attending, the trend became clear that Northwestern students would consistently be showing out, and the move to permanently expand the student section from 800 seats to 1,000 was necessary.
Record-breaking night, @NUWildside ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/lsFWaBGa0b— Northwestern Basketball (@NUMensBball) January 13, 2023
Given that the Rutgers game was not a sell-out crowd like Illinois, students were able to overflow from the student section and sit in unsold areas of the upper deck, specifically Section 208. However, against opponents like Wisconsin, which Northwestern expects to have a more full crowd, that may not be an option, thus creating the need to get to the game earlier or reserve tickets ahead of time.
When Northwestern hosts the Badgers on Saturday, Jan. 21, the arena will continue to set aside 1,000 seats for students, a 25% increase from the 800 originally allotted entering the year. The record of 1,511 from Rutgers may very well be possible at a game with smaller general attendance, but with the seats already sold against Wisconsin, the prospects of being able to use overflow seating for that game are unlikely.
The policy will be first enacted when the form opens next Thursday, Jan. 19. As the Wildcats appear to be fielding their best team since the tournament squad of 2016-2017, the fans have showed up and showed out. Now, Northwestern Athletics will attempt to make the attendance process less hectic, with fewer fans left waiting outside Welsh-Ryan Arena and the inside just as rowdy.