Student tickets no longer free of charge

Attendance at Red Storm sporting events may drop this year, but it will have nothing to do with a decrease in the quality of St. Johns’ teams, poor promotion, or even a lack of student interest. Students this year will be charged to attend many of the games that were free last year, the Athletic Department announced. Students feel that this may discourage them from attending the events that they enjoyed on a regular basis in previous years.

“After the cost was added to see any sporting event at St. John’s, my friends and I haven’t gone to any of the games,” said senior Daryl Sharpe. “We have a lot of good memories watching men’s soccer and baseball, but we personally won’t pay to see our teams play after being hit so hard with loans and [tuition] payments.”

Although only the prices of men’s and women’s soccer games have been released as of the beginning of the fall semester, it is not expected that the amount charged will be exorbitant. Many, however, feel that any amount of money, such as the $2 admission fee for soccer games, is too much.

Athletic Director Chris Monasch said that there should be no controversy about the new charges, as the University had never promised, or for that matter intended, to keep games free to students permanently. This is especially true in the case of men’s and women’s basketball, some of the more popular sports at St. John’s. Monasch said that in the case of basketball, students had been charged in the past, and it was only last year that students were given free admission as a limited time offer to boost attendance.

“There had been different policies for different sports and we thought that it should be uniform,” Monasch said. “We feel that it is a fairly minimal fee, and there was a need to generate some revenue for these teams.” Monasch said that the decision was made by the University administration on his advisement.

There are, however, some teams that were not affected by the change. Sports such as volleyball, softball, tennis, cross-country and track will remain free and open to the public. According to Monasch, this was a decision based on “logistics,” citing the fact that some of these sports take place in areas that would be impossible to secure. As for the sports that will have an admission fee, the price will vary based on what the University deems is the market value for the event.

Not all students agree that the new admission fees are unjust. Senior Dan Drebycz related a story of having gone to the campus of another college and being impressed by how much more pleasant and attractive St. John’s is, including the athletic fields. He said that if the University uses the money collected to continue making the campus and facilities beautiful, it is justifiable.

“I think that by collecting two dollars, it’s only helping our university and our campus, so it’s ok,” Drebycz said, adding that the athletic fields “look awesome.”

Jennifer Gorman-Stokes, co-chair of the School Spirit Committee, agreed. “I think if the reasoning behind it is there, it’s ok,” she said. Gorman-Stokes also said that she does not believe it will necessarily hinder attendance at the games. “We have a lot of games coming up, and that will be the true test,” she said.

There are still a number of factors up in the air that could effect how the changes are received. It is yet to be seen how prices for the basketball games will compare to the prices in the past, as well as to the general admission prices for non-students. Also, many students’ decisions on whether or not to attend will likely hinge upon how well the teams are performing. One thing, however, is certain; if attendance figures drop greatly from where they have been in the past, this decision will be viewed as one that does more harm than good to St. John’s athletics.