Quinnipiac University has a busy day in store on Saturday, as three of its athletic squads will head up to the TD Bank Sports Center for one of the busiest days in school history.
The men’s basketball team will face Robert Morris at 11 a.m. in a game televised on ESPNU, followed by a women’s basketball game which will be featured on ESPN3 at 1:30 p.m.
The men’s ice hockey team will also take on Yale at 7 p.m. in a contest on SNY across the building.
With three games in one day, the staff at the arena along with athletics administrators will have their hands full. A day of such a magnitude is not thrown together so easily.
“We start lining up promotions, ticket sales, what’s on TV the second you get the schedule,” said Eric Grgurich, executive director of the TD Bank Sports Center.
Grgurich said that Quinnipiac has not had a day like this in several years, but even with the anticipation of large crowds, the arena will not be prepared much differently. However, he said it will be a busy day for all of the arena’s workers.
“We’ll have full staff, we’ll have everyone that we call on throughout the year for all hands on deck,” Grgurich said. “Everyone will be ready to go.”
The annual contest against Yale is typically one of Quinnipiac’s most highly-attended games. Last year, 1,300 tickets were sold in the first four seconds after they became available online.
“It was like a big name concert, which is kind of cool to see that much demand,” Grgurich said.
Administration expects the game to completely sell out quickly once again this year, and said that standing room may even be exceeded eventually. If this occurs, people will be turned away, Grgurich said.
However, one of the draws that makes Feb. 25 different than many other days at the building is the national television coverage. ESPNU will be the first to arrive at the arena to cover the basketball contests.
They are expected to begin setup as early as 6 a.m., long before fans are let inside the building. Getting the game scheduled for ESPN, Grgurich said, was no coincidence.
“The Northeast Conference decides the TV schedule in the beginning of the year, so it’s a compliment to us that they felt we could fill the arena at 11 a.m. on a Saturday,” he said. “[ESPN] chose to showcase us, which is a testament of the rivalry that this has become with Robert Morris and the fans that we have.”
Fan attendance at the games this season has sparked much controversy on the Quinnipiac campus.
“We don’t know why the students aren’t showing up, and we want that to change,” said Jack McDonald, director of athletics and recreation.
The department has discussed making the shuttle service more accessible for games at the Bank, though no decisions have been made as of yet.
In regards to the Grandparents Day promotion being held on the same day, Grgurich said that it’s another way to encourage students to bring their families to the game.
The directors know they will have little difficulty getting fans to attend the Yale game, so the promotional focus is on basketball.
“We’re really pushing the basketball games because we really want that to fill in. With the hockey game sold-out, it allows us to put emphasis on basketball,” Grgurich said.
In the end, the day will serve as an opportunity to sell the public on making commitments to Quinnipiac athletics.
Administration will be pushing season ticket sales, along with playoff packages. Grgurich believes the results will be positive.
“When there’s a big crowd here, it gives them a different perspective of the arena and it makes them want to be a part of it, so it’s a great way to sell season tickets,” Grgurich said. “It’s a great way to showcase the building.”
The day is expected to go down as one of the highest grossing days the TD Bank Sports Center has ever seen. With a national television audience, three playoff-bound squads and an expected packed house, Saturday may be a historic day for Quinnipiac athletics as well.
The cameras will certainly be on.