Season ticket holders looking forward to new arenaWritten by Brandi Barhite | Associate Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
By Brandi Barhite
Toledo Free Press Special Sections Editor
When Savage Hall opened in 1976 as Centennial Hall, the men’s basketball team beat defending national champion Indiana University, 59-57.
George Pickett was there when UT served Bobby Knight’s team an upset and he is hoping for more excitement Dec. 3 when the men’s team plays the first game in John F. Savage Arena and Charles A. Sullivan Athletic Complex.
“We were underdogs, probably without a doubt,” said 79-year-old Pickett, who graduated from UT, about the game against Indiana.
Pickett has been a season ticket holder since 1954. He and his wife, Pat, attend every home men’s basketball game.
“It was a lot of fun,” Pickett said. “We have a lot of good games and we have had a lot of disappointments. We have had very good seats.”
When the newly renovated arena opens Dec. 3 for its debut game, “we ordered the club seats, which we think are going to be pretty nice,” he said. The game starts at 7 p.m.
Men’s basketball season tickets are $182 and women’s are $117. Suites, loges and club seats cost more if you could buy them. Those sections are sold out for 2008-09. The suites in Savage come with a $30,000 annual contribution and up to 24 men’s basketball season tickets can be purchased at $182 per ticket. Women’s basketball and women’s volleyball tickets are included with the $30,000 contribution. Loges are $1,200 per seat and include tickets for men’s and women’s basketball tickets and women’s volleyball.
But fans do not have to be season ticket holders to enjoy the new arena. Ticket prices vary, depending on where you sit, but can be bought at the door for as little as $6 for adults and $3.50 for children for men’s games, $9 and $4.50 for women’s games.
Athletic Director Mike O’Brien said season ticket holders are approaching 4,000 at this time, which would be about 1,000 more than last year.
“Our community, our fan base has been very responsive to our efforts,” he said. “We have attracted some new season holders. Those who have canceled in the past for whatever reason have come back to us.”
In the new Savage, seating is 7,300 compared to 9,000, but O’Brien said this is in part because of making the arena handicap accessible. He also believes this will be plenty of seating and that running out of room would be a good problem to have, he said.
Pickett said the last coach to really pack the arena was Bob Nichols, although he has high hopes for Gene Cross, the new men’s basketball coach. The women’s team also has a new coach, Tricia Cullop.
Jeff Traudt has been a basketball season ticket holder for 25 years at least, he said.
“We want to support our Rockets,” said Traudt, a 1979 UT graduate. “It is a great venue and it is going to be even nicer.
“It was in need of renovation. It was starting to show its age,” he said.