The rhythm of squeaking shoes, the steady dribble of the ball across the court and the hum of metal clanking as each team attempts to score a basket creates a symphony of music. Fairfield University men’s basketball team fights in the final half against the Manhattan Jaspers on February 24th. With both the Jaspers and the Stags battling for victory, the crowd remains on their feet, cheering to create a chorus of noise. Applause echoes throughout Alumni Hall as the Stags beat Manhattan 72-59.
Several weeks’ prior at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn.., the Stags faced the St. Peter’s Peacocks. As compared to the 2,017 guests who attended the Jaspers/Stags game at Alumni Hall, only 786 were in attendance for the Peacocks/Stags game at the arena. The same rhythm of squeaking shoes, the dribbling ball, and the clanking metal occurred, but this time the chorus of cheers were missing – causing the symphony to fall flat.
While it is true that Webster Bank Arena has a capacity of up to 10,000 fans, state-of-the-art technology, and an endless supply of hotdogs and beer, these factors do not make it the better option to host Fairfield University men’s basketball games. Unlike the arena, Alumni Hall creates an unmatchable energy that can only occur in a fully packed stadium. Not to mention – it is conveniently located directly on campus.
At the arena, even if a big crowd of 2,000 guests shows up, it still feels small amongst the 10,000 seats. However, when the same amount of guests come to Alumni Hall with a capacity of only 2,479 seats, the room is filled and booming.
“Alumni Hall is smaller so it has a more intimate feel that is better catered to our small university. The arena is so big that it never feels full which creates a less exciting atmosphere,” said cross country team member Emma Unterkoefler ’19 (Editor’s Note: Unterkoefler is a contributing writer for The Mirror).
It is clear that Fairfield University men’s basketball games should be played on campus, as the crowd is what makes the game and the crowd is always stronger at home.
This past season, the number of people attending the games at the arena in Bridgeport compared to the games at home were much lower. In recent games, the average number of guests attending games at Alumni Hall nearly doubled the amount in attendance at the arena.
The last two games of the season against Marist College and Manhattan College had over 2,000 people in attendance, where as the two most recent games played at the arena only had slightly over 1,000 guests in attendance. This trend began at the start of the season, with one of the Stags’ lowest attended games being held at the arena.
Students prefer Alumni Hall because the location is convenient. Traveling to Bridgeport is a hassle that no student wants to take on. Many students admitted to never going to any games off campus because of the transportation issue – which is especially inconvenient for underclassman without cars.
“When the stands are full at Alumni the atmosphere is awesome and the basketball teams are able to pick up energy from the crowd’s energy,” said Unterkoefler.
To the players as well, Alumni Hall is the better choice. Most of the team’s practices occur on campus making it feel more like their home court, as opposed to the arena, which explains why many players admit to feeling more comfortable playing at Alumni.
“I believe it is very important that Fairfield basketball games are played on campus. I think playing games at Alumni Hall would enhance the school spirit and present us a better opportunity to get more fans and supporters to our games,” said Fairfield Basketball player Matija Milin ’19.
When it comes down to it, the players feed off of the crowd, which is always more lively and rowdy at the home court.
Matija stressed the importance of the fans whom he believes often create the atmosphere.
“I prefer playing at Alumni Hall. For me it means a lot when we have a lot of fans to cheer for us during the game. Whenever we play in Alumni Hall it is usually completely sold out and the fans are like a sixth player for us, and I don’t think that is the case with the Webster Bank Arena.”
Not only is Alumni Hall more accessible to students, but the tickets are cheaper for non-students too, with general admission costing $10, compared to $15, as well as $5 for children 12 and under as compared to $9.
It is clear that the environment at Alumni Hall, as well as the convenience of its location, and low cost tickets make it the best place to host Fairfield University men’s basketball games. The court is ultimately better at fostering Stag pride because it is closest to home in more ways than one.