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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ZonaZoo improvements enhancing overall experience

    Bold letters across the back of the new ZonaZoo shirts read “ZonaZoo STAYS the entire game.” It’s clear that the athletics department and the ZonaZoo crew are trying to send a message, but that alone won’t convince students to stay.

    To engage both the diehard sports fanatics and the casual fans, who attend the games primarily for the social experience, the student section leaders are trying to make the ZonaZoo experience more interactive.

    “Arizona Athletics has partnered with ZonaZoo,” said James Francis, the senior associate director of athletics, “and [they] collaboratively have made improvements.”

    Mario Ziccarelli, the executive director of ZonaZoo and a senior studying Italian and psychology, said some of these improvements include a kiss cam and an effort to play more current music during breaks in the action.

    Ziccarelli described how ZonaZoo is “trying to feature something new at every game to always keep students excited and interested in what’s coming next. There have been $500 giveaways and we will be debuting a new ZonaZoo flag — there will be a game where both flags are used at once.”

    These changes are intended to appeal to students like Jamie Oko, a psychology junior, who said she goes to the games to be with her friends.

    Interactive activities and music may not matter to the most passionate of sports fans, but they can still help to contribute to a better overall atmosphere at the games and make students feel like they are a part of something important.

    Benjamin Berger, a religious studies junior and a diehard Wildcat fan, said that ZonaZoo’s efforts are not going unnoticed. Even though Berger said he has never left a game early and shows up to basketball games approximately “6 hours in advance to get into the front row,” he commented that “one of the things that probably made people stay at the football games was the $500 giveaway.”

    There are a lot of students like Berger who will come and stay at sporting events just for the love of the game, but there aren’t usually enough of them to fill the entire ZonaZoo section. Making the games interactive for the less passionate sports fans, who go for the experience of the crowd and just to be at the game with friends, is the best way to keep them there.

    Ziccarelli said that ZonaZoo is “constantly working and brainstorming new interactive ideas for students,” which should create an environment that keeps everyone engaged and having a good time. ZonaZoo is trying to transform the game day experience into something worth coming for on its own. Judging by how full the student section was at the end of the last two football games, it seems to be working.

    Stephanie Elliott is a junior studying political science and English literature. Follow her on Twitter.com/@steffelliott.

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