Wednesday, August 24, 2011
It was bound to happen....
The writing was on wall last year, even though I didn't want to believe it. Steadily as the calender flipped from January into February and February into March, the demand for Alabama Basketball tickets suddenly began to go through the roof of Coleman Coliseum as the Tide ran to a perfect record at home. All the while 'Bama sold out 6 of its last 7 SEC home games boasting raucous crowds of 15,383 on a nightly basis.
Following the disappointment of not reaching the NCAA tournament, Alabama hosted 3 straight NIT games at home and the crowds continued to grow for each successive game. I don't think it would have mattered who Alabama was playing, but people were having such a fun time that I think they could have continued playing Sisters of the Poor in the middle of April and another huge crowd would have come out to see the Tide.
So with a preseason top 15 ranking coming for the Tide, the return of the three headed monster of Trevor Releford, Tony Mitchell and Jaymichael Green, a highly touted incoming freshman class, Alabama is poised for another break out year. Expectations are high, but so is the demand for tickets, so much so that I was unfortunately told that my current seats are now being put into the Tide Pride program for basketball.
What this basically means is I will have to give a $100 donation for each of my current seats and then buy my season tickets at $200 for each set of tickets, bringing the grand total to $600 for this season. Some may say that is a high price, but it includes almost 20 home games, which basically puts the cost of attending games as being the same price and if not cheaper then attending a movie.
Trust me, I'm not complaining about the increase because it didn't take a rocket scientist to see this coming, but it is disappointing. I've had season tickets for Crimson Tide hoops for almost a decade now, even kept them when I lived in Atlanta. We had great seats in about row 25 right behind the basket and by the Alabama bench. I gave those tickets up when we had our first two children, but still attended several home/road games a year & SEC Tournaments over that time. When we purchased our seats again in 2006, the demand for season tickets reached an all time high as Alabama was pre season top 5 team, much like this year. We were stuck up pretty high in the nosebleeds as a Tide Pride for basketball was instituted at some point during our 2 year season ticket hiatus.
But as Alabama Basketball floundered to a disappointing end of the Mark Gottfried era, fewer and fewer people renewed their tickets and we kept moving lower and lower to the point that we sit on the foul line, directly across from the Tide bench. There great seats and have been there for 4 straight years going on 5 and we know all the regulars/loyal supporters around us.
Its disappointing that our loyalty of buying tickets during those awful campaigns under Gottfried are not being rewarded, that we have to pony up more cash to keep our seats. But its understandable and good for the program that there is such a buzz about Alabama basketball in a football crazed state.
Several years ago at an important SEC home game for Alabama that had NCAA tournament/SEC Title implications, I was complaining about the lack of a big crowd on a Wednesday night when there needed to be a huge crowd there. A wise man told I wouldn't complain about the lack of a crowd, because its that kind of fan apathy that let's those who really love 'Bama hoops to continue to not have to fight for tickets to big games, etc, etc. Its nice too not always have to fight crowds for concessions, parking etc.
You know what, he was right. It was a different take in regards to basketball at the Capstone. Those who go to the games know how much fun the hoops games can be, their isn't a drunk sitting behind me calling for the back up quarterback or other yahoos there. Its not too hot or too cold, its not sitting out in the rain like a football game. Its having a cushioned seat and being with knowledgeable basketball people who like the sport and Alabama, who enjoy the games and thats that. Its our secret and so I stopped worrying about the importance of basketball at Alabama and just enjoyed it. Since that point, I never worried about the crowd size at Coleman. If it was huge, great, if not, I'm having a good time with my family and we're enjoying what we do together.
Its great that basketball at Alabama is getting the attention it deserves. For the fans that have stuck through the thin years, its a fun time. But in a way its somewhat bittersweet from the ticket standpoint and that my family's little secret of fun times & enjoyment might be somewhat threatened.