Penn Athletic Department officials have announced that they will once again permit standing in all student sections during basketball games at the Palestra, but will reconfigure the highly coveted student chairback section as part of a compromise with longtime season ticket holders. The new seating policy wedged out a corner of the 119-seat chairback section at center court, reassigning about 34 student seats to non-student season ticket holders who must remain seated for the entire game. Student season ticket holders, many of whom spent the weekend camped out in the ticket line in Hutchinson Gym, were able to purchase the remaining 85 seats -- the same number of chairbacks they had in the past -- and will be allowed to stand for the entire game. The new seat configuration no longer blocks the sightlines of the adult fans who sit near the student chairback section. But when students stand, a few upper-level rows of adult season ticketholders -- in sections 214 and 213 -- could miss some of the action in a small corner near the Penn basket. The new seating chart is intended to resolve the controversy surrounding last year's strict "No Standing" policy along the sidelines that was difficult to enforce and about as unpopular with most student fans as the Princeton Tigers. "It's a reasonable solution for a situation that isn't pefect," Penn Athletic Director Steve Bilsky explained. Bilsky said he hoped that the new seating arrangements put to rest longstanding tension between enthusastic students who stood for entire games and adult season ticket holders who didn't want to -- and in some cases -- were physically unable to stand. Although an advisory committee of student, faculty and alumni season ticket holders developed the "No Standing" policy in the mid-1990s, it was only loosely enforced by Palestra security guards -- until last season. As the Athletic Deparmtent fielded more complaints from adult fans, Palestra security started cracking down on standing students, even going so far as to remove fans from the Palestra. In response, Bilsky called in a new committee of students and adult season ticket-holders to hammer out a compromise this fall. Although the group considered creating student-only standing sections behind both baskets that would have eliminated the centercourt seats, they eventually settled on reconfiguring the existing chairback section. But while the new arrangement may help quell some of the conflicts, it may already have created some new ones -- especially among the die-hard student fans who waited in The Line. "I don't understand why they gave all the alumni the close seats," said College junior Nate Herr, who was among the first 10 groups in The Line. But most students seemed to think that the compromise was fair, preferring the solidarity of standing to a more choice seating location. "As long as students are able to stand," College sophomore Dan Simons said, "they'll be happy." And after years of complaining that students did not adhere to their pledge not to stand during games, 30-year season ticket holder Ted Hershberg says he is pleased with the new arrangement. "If they won't live up to their word, then this was the option left up to the ticket people," the Penn history and public policy professor said.Comments powered by Disqus
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