NIU looks to mend crowd’s confusion

By Carl Ackerman

Finding a seat in the main student section has caused confusion and frustration for many Huskie fans attending home football games, but NIU is working to make things easier.

The main (west) student section holds nearly 4,000 students, but when the seats start filling up students are re-routed to the north endzone which holds 3,700. The problems develop when those who are turned away were expecting to meet their friends on the main side.

“We have to move them because of health and safety reasons. The students will be re-routed to the North end zone and then to the east side if necessary,” Athletic Director Gerald O’Dell said.

Students can expect to be re-routed if they don’t arrive early enough before the kickoff. However, Associate Athletic Director Keith Hackett said there will always be room for the students.

“Some students get confused and think they can’t get into the game since the main section is closed. If both the west and north sides are filled with students, then we will put them on the east side and then the south side. We’ll never turn (the students) away. Last year we had 13,000 students for homecoming. We just want to let people know there are plenty of seats available,” Hackett said.

Hackett is hoping for about 14,000 students on Homecoming which would be 1,000 more than last year’s Homecoming. NIU’s last home game, a 42-35 win over Kansas State, was witnessed by less than 6,000 students. In the KSU game, students were re-routed to the north end zone around kickoff time.

The decision to re-route the students is made when approximately 15 rows are left at the top of the main student section.

Hackett said the section is closed at this time because there are still many students walking up the stadium’s ramps on their way to the seats. “The remaining rows hold about 500 to 600 people, and those are the people on the ramps,” Hackett said.

“We’re happy to have this problem. It’s a great problem to have. A lot of schools don’t have that problem. I would suggest that students get there as early as possible,” Hackett said.

NIU expects similar crowd problems for the Oct. 20 game against Murray State which is highlighted by Parent’s Day.

Hackett said parents will not sit in the student section, but the students can sit with their parents in the ticket holder section. Students will need to obtain a free ticket for themselves by showing their student ID’s.

Hackett said there has been talk about plans to upgrade the west_side bleachers to better accomodate the students in the future. However, specific plans have not been made.

Some students get confused and think they can’t get into the game since the main section is closed.”

Keith Hackett, associate athletic director