The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

80° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


ZonaZoo has no say in sideline seats

Rebecca Marie Sasnett

ZonaZoo fans cheer during Arizona football’s tense 49-45 win against California on Sept. 20 at Arizona Stadium. Athletics event management decides where ZonaZoo, the nation’s largest student section, will sit at sporting events.

The ZonaZoo does not have a say in where students are seated at athletic events and was not involved in related discussions during the renovation of McKale Center.

The ZonaZoo section in McKale Center is currently located behind the basket at the north end of the arena and will seat about 2,300 students this year, according to Suzy Mason, senior associate director of athletics event management.

In contrast, seven Pac-12 Conference schools, including Stanford University, California, University of California Los Angeles and University of Oregon, along with high profile basketball schools like Gonzaga University, Duke University and University of Michigan, have a portion of their student sections seated along the sidelines.

Mason said that there were discussions about rearranging the student section into a different layout during McKale Center renovations, but it was decided against in order to keep the student section concentrated in a central location.

That decision was made without the consultation of the leaders of the ZonaZoo, according to Jacob Borcover, ZonaZoo executive director. Borcover said the athletics department makes decisions about ZonaZoo’s configuration.

Mason and Borcover had contrasting opinions about how students on the sidelines would affect the atmosphere in McKale Center.

Mason said that moving some students to the sidelines would weaken the intense atmosphere of McKale Center, but Borcover said he would have been in favor of moving some students to the baseline because it would make the atmosphere even more intimidating.

“I would be a huge proponent of sitting on the baseline, doing kind of like a Michigan or a Duke-type deal,” Borcover said. “I think it would create an incredible home-court advantage.”

Other students, like Pierce Longmire, a biomedical engineering freshman, agreed with Barcover.

Longmire said that the atmosphere would still be the same because there is school spirit, regardless where students sit.

Mason said that athletics decided against moving some students to the sidelines in McKale Center since it would compromise the sight lines of those who would be behind the students, because students tend to stand throughout basketball games.

However, Longmire said the sight lines for the students would make them interested in the change.

It would be a “more whole view” of the game, Longmire said.

Mason added that a change would reduce the number of students who could attend the games. According to Mason, such a configuration would not allow the section to seat up to 2,300 students. Mason said there was talk of relocating ZonaZoo to the sidelines, specifically section one from floor to ceiling, but there would be fewer student seats in doing so.

However, it wasn’t an either-or scenario according to Mason, as the athletics event management proposed having a combination of seats, both behind the north basket and in section one on the sidelines.

Athletics is required to reserve a certain allotment of lower level seats in section one for guests of the visiting team, and those seats would have cut into the number of student seats in the lower section if a portion of the ZonaZoo was moved to section one.

According to Mason, only about 600 of the available 2,300 seats were reserved for some games last year.

“More seats wasn’t discussed when they’re not filling the seats that they have now,” Mason said.

Mason said that athletics has five years of data on student reservations and during that time, there was never a year where student reservations “exceeded 90 percent” for the year, and there were games last year that did not even reach 70 percent student capacity.

Borcover said reservations for most games reach capacity even if they weren’t close to full capacity in regard to “scan numbers.” He did not believe the ZonaZoo would have any problem filling its section to capacity this season.

According to Borcover, the interactions between ZonaZoo and the athletics department have only been strong for about two years. He said this relationship is important because ZonaZoo can’t do much without the support of the athletics department.

Borcover said he believed that the process of determining the location for the students might have been different if the ZonaZoo and athletics had always had the relationship they have now.

“At the end of the day, it wasn’t our decision,” Borcover said. 


Follow Max Rodriguez on Twitter @njmaxrod

More to Discover
Activate Search