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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Lightning delay leads to unrest

    At top and bottom, hordes of the Zona Zoo faithful remained steadfast in the stands of Arizona Stadium on Saturday amid lightning, thunder and torrential rain. Middle, Dominic Gaiser, an undeclared freshman, is tackled and taken away during the weather delay at the Arizona-Idaho blowout Saturday night. Gaiser attempted to rush the field, but was quickly apprehended by law enforcement officials.
    At top and bottom, hordes of the Zona Zoo faithful remained steadfast in the stands of Arizona Stadium on Saturday amid lightning, thunder and torrential rain. Middle, Dominic Gaiser, an undeclared freshman, is tackled and taken away during the weather delay at the Arizona-Idaho blowout Saturday night. Gaiser attempted to rush the field, but was quickly apprehended by law enforcement officials.

    While Arizona’s first home football game was a success by most measurements, the night still had its share of complications due to weather conditions and unruly fan behavior.

    Last year’s first home football game was marred by violence and unrest that resulted from disgruntled Zona Zoo pass holders who could not get into the game, which led to several arrests and even one student being tazed by police. This year’s system saw many successful improvements to ensure the debacle did not happen again, but there was still some fan discontentment due to the weather conditions.

    “”There are always going to be things that are out of your control,”” said ASUA President Tommy Bruce. “”And one of those things is weather.””

    The football game, scheduled to begin at 7:00 PM, was delayed by lightning for over an hour and fans were asked to leave the stands. A large portion of the Zona Zoo student section refused to leave their soggy seats for the duration of the delay, and although most remained without incident, some unruly fans that refused to leave were cited by police officers. Other fans caused trouble later in the game by throwing water bottles and other objects onto the field.

    “”If you are asked to leave the stadium and refuse to do so, you could be charged with trespassing,”” said Corporal Mario Leon of UAPD. “”If you throw a bottle on the field and hit someone, you could be charged with assault, and if you don’t hit someone you could still be charged with disorderly conduct or littering. It all depends on the circumstances.””

    UAPD plans to release information on the exact number of arrests that took place at the game later in the week.

    Although there were problems with unruliness, most of them were not due to excessively long entrance lines, which was the cause of most of the discontent at the home football game opener last year. Zona Zoo director David Roost said many improvements have been made since the system of students swiping their Cat Cards to enter the game was first implemented last year.

    “”Since last year was the first time we’d tried the system, we weren’t sure what to expect,”” Roost said. “”We had 10 Cat Card scanners at the first home game last year, and now we have 20. This time around worked great.””

    In addition to adding more scanners at the entrances, Zona Zoo issued a disclaimer for pass holders making it clear that seating would not be guaranteed at home football and men’s basketball games. They also added more security personnel at football games and created a “”trouble line”” at games for students who left their Cat Cards at home or are having trouble getting into the game for other reasons.

    “”The trouble line was ideal,”” said Bruce. “”Between that and the scanners there was never a long wait to get into the game.””

    Arizona sports fans are not unfamiliar with fan unruliness, as incidents of profanity, violence and throwing objects onto the court during men’s basketball season last year led to threats of less television coverage for Arizona basketball games.

    “”It reflects poorly not only on Arizona Athletics but on the university as a whole,”” Bruce said. “”In the absolute worst case scenario TV channels are not going to want to air us, but we’re nowhere near that stage of unruliness right now.””

    The improved Cat Card system was one of many changes in the Zona Zoo program this year. Other new features of the program include “”Zona Zoo nights”” where a lot of attention will be paid to less well known sports than football and basketball, and two bus road trips to away football games.

    “”It’s a matter of building a culture,”” Bruce said. “”We’re working with all the teams to decide what will work best for them, and there are a lot of exciting ideas in the works.””

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