Moody Center lacks sufficient space for students

Max Laky, Columnist

If you’ve gone to a basketball game this season, you probably remember it for all the right reasons: the buzzing atmosphere inside and two AP top 25 ranked basketball teams playing on the court. The newly built, $375 million Moody Center, home of the men’s and women’s basketball teams, is a gorgeous facility with an impressive design, state-of-the-art technology and electric atmosphere inside. 

The pricey stadium even helps the performance of our basketball programs. At home, the men’s and women’s teams have only lost one game each. Both the men’s and women’s teams are in the top two places of the Big 12, the most competitive division in college basketball. 

However, if you didn’t get the chance to see our teams play, it’s likely because you didn’t get in. 

There’s a fatal flaw in the design of the venue: the student section is not big enough. The lower bowl of the stadium can fit around 1,250 people, a fraction of UT’s over 50,000 student body. If you don’t camp out in front of the stadium for at least a few hours before tipoff, it’s unlikely that you’ll get a seat.

“I went to the Gonzaga game at the beginning of the year, and I was in line almost three hours before tipoff, and I didn’t even get into the game,” said finance sophomore Raghav Rao. “And ever since then, it’s been pretty packed.”

It’s not just about getting good seats versus bad seats — it’s either good seats or no seats at all. If you’re among the lucky few to get in, you either get courtside “lower bowl” seats, or you’re sent to the standing “upper-deck balcony,” just about the last place any sports fan would want to be.

It’s not without purpose that the student section is so small. Since the stadium is privately-financed, it makes sense that its design would aim to maximize the number of seats for higher-paying, individual ticket holders. 

“One big thing is that we want this to be like a club,” said Reagan Huggins, marketing intern for the UT Athletics department. “The earlier you can get there, the better seats you’re going to have.” 

It’s a clever idea to ensure that the student section will always be packed by making it smaller. Fewer empty seats gives the appearance of a stronger fan base and fuller stadium, which benefits the performance of the team. 

However, it’s unfair for the primary fan base of the team to have to wrangle their way into the Corral. The University should honor the dedication of its students by giving them better opportunities to see games in the stadium, especially those who can’t allocate so much of their day to wait in line.

“It felt like there was a lot more room for students,” Raghav added, commenting on the Frank Erwin Center, the previous home of Texas Basketball. 

Unless the owners intend to completely redesign the interior of the stadium, it looks like students are going to be stuck cramming their way into the tight student section. However, if the University implemented better tools to help students get to open seats, it would spare people the gamble of waiting in a line that might lead to an already full student section.

While the Moody Center might be the most striking stadium in college basketball, students should question at what cost it was built. If you enjoy actually going to the games, perhaps a more student-centered stadium would have been better.

Laky is a finance sophomore from Chicago, Illinois.