After a year of excited anticipation, the glitzy Finneran Pavilion is finally open and operating. With its imposing glass facade, accolade-filled atrium and (of course) brand-new, state-of-the-art basketball court, the Finn truly seems worthy of a team of national champions.
But what about that team’s most loyal fans?
As a freshman, I was extremely excited to attend Hoops Mania and to finally be a part of Nova Nation. The recent completion of the building had resulted in an administrative decision not to book a performer for this year’s event. The new Pavilion itself was the proudly featured guest of honor. Despite the synchronized lights and zealously DJ’d music, (“I LOVE MY JOB!”, if you know, you know), some of my enthusiasm waned in my second straight hour of standing still. In a stadium full of seating, The University has placed its students on a remote set of choral risers. Around me, other students were restless; more than a few had sat on the ground at intervals to relieve their aching feet or backs.
As the basketball season began and more students attended games at the Finn, student concern has magnified. The Finn represents a $60 million investment from the school and its generous donors and was intended to improve the experience for all those spectating the games. The general student sentiment, however, has been disappointment. This season, it feels as though fewer tickets are allotted to students per game than ever before. Tickets for seating at popular games sell for upwards of $3,000, far outside the average college student’s budget, and some chairs lie tantalizingly vacant while students stand.
The standing-only student section is not just unpleasant. In some ways it is dangerous. Without a central staircase, mobility in and out of the section is difficult, even in case of emergency. The fact that the Finn now sells alcohol, endorsing a decrease in coordination from the university’s 21+ students, exacerbates mobility concerns.
Students with disabilities are segregated from their peers if they have to sit outside of the section for games or choose not to attend the games at all.
The Pavilion transparently caters to the wealthy donors who renovated it and to the Villanova alumni who can afford to buy their tickets. However, “free” student tickets certainly do not feel free when rolled into a nearly $70,000 tuition. While the University can now cash in on the fans they fostered in previous graduation classes, devaluing the students of today discourages the same patronage and loyalty from these students when it’s their turn to consider reliving their college days.
As a freshman this year, I received no tickets in the first ticket lottery and heard more than a few complaints from fellow freshman who attended only part of their games because of the lack of seating. Freshmen this year are struggling to feel a part of Villanova’s basketball scene, and the Finn has everything to do with it.
Villanova’s basketball program won the 2016 National Championship without a fancy new Pavilion and the 2018 Championship without any Pavilion at all. The only consistency has been the fueling passion of Nova Nation - the electric, contagious enthusiasm and support of the University’s students, cheering them on from the stands or, now, from the choral risers.