Staff editorial

With the astounding success of the Lawrence men’s and women’s basketball teams as of late, something has become painfully clear: Alexander Gymnasium is incapable of effectively housing large volumes of spectators. At every home doubleheader this year the bleachers have been full by the second half of women’s games, leaving sizeable standing
crowds accumulating at the corners of the arena.
There are two sides to this conflict. On the one hand, the overcrowdedness
represents a token of Lawrence’s good will toward the community.
Entrance to all games is free to everyone – something that most Viking opponents do not offer at their home venues. This is a valuable connection with the people of the Fox Valley and beyond. However, the packed houses present some problems.
The most basic concern is safety. At games, aisles are being plugged by standing or seated spectators – a complication with potentially dangerous
effects. Secondly, game experiences are being compromised for many viewers. A spectator who arrives late to a game is forced to fight his or her way through a crowd in order to see at all. It would be optimal to have enough seating space to accommodate everyone interested.
With a capacity of 1,380 people, Alexander is one of the smallest gyms in the Midwest Conference. The gym does have the good fortune of more open space behind one of the hoops, and this area could feasibly
be turned into seating. With this crisis at hand, there isn’t necessarily
a cut-and-dried solution to the problem.
However, nobody, inside or outside the athletics department, has researched any of the possible benefits of charging an entrance fee for games. The department certainly hasn’t been without financial troubles in the recent past, and some analysis of the impact of charging for overcrowded
basketball games would simply make good economic sense. If deemed a viable option for fundraising, measures could be taken to preserve the valuable interaction with the community by, say, allowing children free admission.
The message here is not to immediately start charging, but rather to investigate the potential of such measures with a mind toward improving
our facilities. The general public would probably be glad to pay a few dollars to see our Vikes play, especially if they knew their money was going directly toward a better viewing experience.

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