[Moderated by Matt Jones]
Rupp Arena is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 college arenas in America. Rightfully so as at its peak Rupp can become one of the most intimidating venues to play in in all of the world (too much?). Anyway, at its peak Rupp is great but as the past LSU and South Carolina home games have indicated, Rupp’s atmosphere can leave much to be desired. Against South Carolina the dullness can be forgiven as the game was in control virtually throughout and as Frank Martin declared, South Carolina was just letting Kentucky hold a practice. But back to the LSU game. I was sitting in the upper rows of the lower level and as the Tigers were making their comeback I commonly found myself awkwardly being the only one cheering/standing up. It’s a proven fact, cheering helps the home team and as LSU made the Cats look like vulnerable kittens, the crowd really could have picked up their game a bit. The eRupption Zone does its part but the rest of the lower level is a sad sad sight to the eyes. There’s obviously outliers so don’t take that last declaration literally as it is a generalization. Yes the lower level is largely occupied by elderly season ticket holders but that’s just my observation.
Rupp’s occasional dullness has been talked over multiple times but something needs to be done to get the lower level up and out of their seats, cheering on every defensive possession in a close game and yelling during free throws rather than slurping coke and munching on a barbecue pork sandwich (best value at Rupp by the way). We could strive to be like Cameron Indoor or Assembly Hall where the atmosphere is as hostile as can be but that’s not fair as Rupp can’t go for the whole small and cramped environment as it does hold 24,000+. And anyway, who would want to replicate Duke and IU? My only plausible suggestion: Make another eRupption Zone. Let’s break it down:
My proposed eRupption Zone addition. The new eRupption Zone would be right behind where the almighty Matt Jones posts up during games, or in other terms, on the visiting team bench side.
Plusses of adding a second eRupption Zone behind the other basket:
1. Distract opposing team on offensive possessions and free throws in the more important 2nd half.
2. Amplify the sound as the eRupption Zone is commonly the only section cheering mid game.
3. Let more students get seats, because we all know that system is a mess.
4. Stand out. Duke has the sidelines covered which is very cool but taking both baselines and turning them into hostile environments could really contribute to making Rupp a little bit more scary and well, different.
Negatives of adding a second eRupption Zone behind the other basket:
1. Pissed off season ticket holders that must be relocated.
2. A seating nightmare basically as Rupp management must figure out how to please all non-students.
Solution to problem: Make the second eRupption Zone open to general public/students. If this is proposed then the amount of open tickets to the general public would remain the same, it’s just there’d be less seated seats and more standing only, get rowdy seats.
Okay this is highly unrealistic but hypothetically it sounds great and quite honestly with the new arena talk maybe something could be done to make Rupp have more of a hostile feel. In conclusion, as it is quite unlikely anything like this would be approved, something Rupp Arena patrons could do to give the Cats a little more of a home court edge is just approach a game as if they have an obligation to the team to help them. Going to a game and sitting there is just fine as you payed for the tickets and can do whatever you want with your purchase, but I feel as if each fan should see themselves as indirectly accountable for the Cats successes and failures. Cheer every possession like its the most important one, basically, unless it’s the South Carolina game, I suppose. Rupp is pretty darn cool, don’t get me wrong, especially against North Carolina last year but I think everyone can attest to its shortcomings. Here are some videos of clever student sections and fans that could serve as inspiration as well for the eRupption Zone to up its game:
Utah State’s student section seats over 4,000 students! That’s very very cool. Can we make some change, Rupp and the eRupption Zone? Let’s get creative.
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