For a quartet of lucky fans, March Madness will start four days before the end of February. The Penn Athletic Department has planned a barrage of promotions to increase attendance at the Palestra when the Penn women's basketball team hosts Harvard on Saturday night. The Quakers are tied with the Crimson for second place in the Ivy League, one game behind front-running Dartmouth. The highlight of these promotions will be a raffle, with the two top prizes being a pair of tickets to either the men's Final Four at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis or the women's Final Four at Philadelphia's First Union Center. The winners of the raffle will then have to make one-of-three free throws before they actually obtain the Final Four tickets. Raffle tickets cost $2, and all proceeds will benefit the Undergraduate Assembly's outdoor basketball court project. "This seems like an operation that serves everybody's needs," said Bill Richter, Penn's coordinator of marketing and special events. "We want more fans to come and support the women, who are on the cusp of perhaps their first ever NCAA bid, and the UA wants some funds to support their outdoor court. So it seems like everybody wins." Other promotions for the game include a halftime shot for $5,000, as well as giveaways of Amtrak Metroliner tickets to New York and U.S. Airways tickets. A large contingent of Girl Scouts is also anticipated, as the first 500 people in attendance under the age of 12 will receive free Penn women's basketball T-shirts. Richter expects "a couple thousand people" to attend the game -- one that will have a large impact on the Ivy League title race. Attendance for Penn women's basketball has increased this season, but it is still uncommon to see as many as 500 fans in the Palestra for a game. "As a new coach, I've been kind of surprised by the lack of attendance, so I'm hoping that these promotions bring students in to our games for the first time this year," Penn coach Kelly Greenberg said. In addition to helping the Quakers draw fans, these promotions should also greatly benefit the UA, which needs funds for its $190,000 outdoor basketball court project. Construction of the courts on the roof of the parking garage on 38th and Spruce streets was approved by the University last month and is expected to be completed by September. To promote the giveaways at this Saturday's game, the UA -- in conjunction with the Athletic Department -- will send out mailings this week and make raffle tickets available on Locust Walk starting tomorrow. "A lot of people have never been to a women's game," Richter said. "The team is exciting. They're doing very well, and we'll make for a very festive atmosphere."Comments powered by Disqus
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