In the fourth quarter of Missouri’s football game against Florida last season, whole sections of fans in Memorial Stadium mockingly Gator Chomped. Yet there were some seats where fans weren’t chomping, because there weren’t fans in the seats at all. Those seats were designated for group seating, and the groups never showed up.
This year, the Mizzou Athletics announced there would be no more group seating options — a system where groups could reserve spaces in the student section — at football games.
“Groups just weren’t showing up early enough, and we had to turn individual students who arrived plenty early away, and send them to other sections,” Mizzou football spokesman Chad Moller said in an email. “Oftentimes, this meant that the section would be empty or partially empty at kickoff.
“By doing away with holding specific sections for groups, it enables all students to sit in the best available sections upon their arrival to the stadium.”
While Moller said Mizzou Athletics explained the upcoming changes to Student Affairs, Student Life, Missouri Students Association and the Greek community, some students who have used group seating in the past are disappointed with the decision.
“Group seating gave our fraternity the opportunity to consistently sit with our group in a specified location,” Beta Theta Pi Chapter President Jake Maxwell said in an email. “Every game, we knew exactly where we stood and what time we needed to leave our tailgate to make kickoff.”
Now with the new rule, Maxwell said that it could cause problems with his organization due to the chapter not sitting together.
“The rule will divide our chapter among the student section, which may have unforeseen implications,” he said. “For many, football games are seen as social events to meet with friends from similar organizations and show Mizzou spirit. This may upset the cohesive effect group seating has among the student section.”
While the change may upset students initially, Moller said that it will not be difficult for groups or organizations to still sit together at football games if they plan adequately.
“All students can still sit with their friends and groups in available sections, but specific areas will not be held aside (with the exception of Tiger’s Lair),” Moller said. “The earlier students arrive before kickoff, the better their seating options will be. In recent years, groups were not arriving early enough to enjoy any benefit from group seating, because the sections were already being opened up to all students by the time many groups arrived.”
Only five Southeastern Conference schools have student group seating options, including Texas A&M, Florida and Louisiana State. The rest do not offer block packages for students.
Another change Mizzou Athletics has made in ticketing is to introduce print-at-home tickets for students going to football and basketball events in order to eliminate wait lines. Moller said Mizzou Athletics is excited about the change — he said he thinks it will provide a better student ticket experience. Instructions for the print-at-home option will be released prior to the season.