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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Tent City competition gives Gonzaga students chance for front-row seats

By Michael Gulledge

Securing a seat on the highly coveted front row of the Kennel Club for Monday night’s nationally televised men’s basketball game between San Diego State and Gonzaga is a combination of luck, strategy, and dedication. And perhaps a little nastiness.

“You can’t let anybody cut, don’t be afraid to throw an elbow if someone tries to pass you,” sophomore Will Foley said jokingly about the competitiveness of the event.

The student event is called Tent City and it tests the students’ dedication to the fan experience. Without teamwork, the chances of having a good seat for the game are slim.

This process to earn a seat in the student section begins more than a week before the game, when students line up outside McCarthey Athletic Center to have their ID cards activated. Some students line up hours before the doors open at 7 p.m. A week later, the madness begins.

At 12:15 on Sunday afternoon, the Gonzaga Kennel Club Board tweeted the location where tent numbers would be distributed. Elise Scacciotti, a member of the Kennel Board who plans the location where tent slots are distributed, said the location was chosen Sunday morning. The handful of board members who determine the location give up their phones to ensure secrecy.

In the minutes leading up to the all-important tweet, students dispersed throughout campus and constantly refreshed their Twitter feeds, anxiously awaiting the Kennel Board’s announcement.

Foley organized a group of six friends and developed a strategy. He takes into consideration last year’s locations.

“I always like to pick tricky spots on campus,” Foley said.

He placed his friends at Cataldo Hall, McCarthey Athletic Center, the Jundt Art Center and Museum, the Rudolf Fitness Center, Crosby Center, and Rosauer Center.

Once the location was released over Twitter, hundreds of students dashed from all corners of campus to form a line outside the Rosauer Center.

Foley guessed correctly, and group member Gunnar Conley, who was stationed at the Rosauer Center, earned his group the No. 8 tent. The lower the tent number, the better the seat.

Graduate student Chanse Ward was also stationed at the Rosauer Center. His strategic placement and keen eye on Twitter earned his group the No. 1 tent.

“It feels good, we’ve been working towards this for a while,” Ward said. “We are pretty excited. Tent City is an amazing atmosphere.”

All 143 tents are set up on the lawn ouside the Foley Center on the GU campus. The student groups must have at least one member in the tent from 5:30 p.m. Sunday until 5:30 p.m. on Monday. Except for 90 minutes on Sunday to allow students to get in a ticket distribution line for Friday’s home game against Bryant. Being a fan can be hard work.

At 5:30 Monday evening, tents are put away and the groups must report back to McCarthey by 7. The game tips off at 9 p.m. and is televised nationally by ESPN.

Ward’s group will be sitting in the front of the student section, and more than 1,000 students will pack into the Kennel Club behind them.

“It’s going to feel great being in that front row… hoping to be on ESPN, that’s the goal,” Ward said.

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