St. Louis SportsOnline
Most people my age or older, know the line that follows, "how do you get to Carnegie Hall?"
But what would you be thinking about if you were TWA Dome management and were interested in hosting the popular and revenue generating NCAA basketball tournaments?
Well this past Christmas week saw the presentation of the 1998 Earth Grains Basketball Classic, a tune-up for TWA Dome management. The participants were Southeast Missouri State University hosting Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in a 5:15 p.m. warm-up for the featured performers, Kansas State University and Saint Louis University, which followed at 8:05 p.m.
One question is whether this event was successful.
But where are all the spectators?
A significant portion were sitting at terrace level, straining to see both the game and if the empty seats below were in fact unoccupied.
Where were all the tickets for Saluki and Indian fans?
I suppose (my best guess is) that with the professionalization of college sports, we accept the local (predominantly SLU) season ticket holders' right to the best seats in the house.
It was also probably (rightly so) assumed that the warm-up act would be inconsequential to the featured performers.
Saluki and Indians fans (or substitute your favorite second tiered athletic team) might argue that with such different interests in college athletics, some plan should be developed to fill the court-side seats and make the game more enjoyable for those few fans who accept the challenge of following their local college team around the country.
(As an interesting side note, the chancellor of SIUC, Joann Argersinger, was able to sit in section 127 and at halftime made it known to a few of the terrace-level Saluki fans that there were approximately 50 empty seats around her. Was this an invitation to break ranks or an extension of the chancellor's role in extending entitlements to the disenfranchise? Affirmative action for sports fans!)
But in the big picture, NCAA tournaments will provide the caliber of players and team match-ups that will meet TWA Dome management expectations.
In this context, the Earth Grains Basketball Classic was successful.