“Amazing”

It’s amazing.

That’s the general consensus of everyone who sees the new arena.

 That includes the 1,752 who packed into the new arena this weekend to reap the benefits of an opening weekend, complete with free food, face painting and balloon animals, not to mention the first volleyball game of the season.

The number of people set a new record for a Bradley volleyball game, the highest since Nov. 12, 1999 against Illinois State. 

“It was amazing. The Hall of Fame, the sports shop and arena are such a great addition to Bradley’s campus,” said sophomore international studies major Laura Doolin.

Sophomore interactive media major Kendall Coleman agrees.

“I thought it was really nice, clean and comfortable there,” said Coleman. “You can get food and eat in there, too. In Markin, it was small and confined. The arena makes me want to go to games, and my friends want to come now, too.” 

The enthusiasm for the new arena carried over into the game, with the student section showing proud, passionate support for the volleyball team on their way to victory Friday night.

While the attendance on Friday night set records, Saturday’s night game was a different story. Most of the crowd consisted of the parents of the teams, and according to attendance records, there were 754 people recorded at the game. 

Still, the students’ excitement for the upcoming events at the arena is building.

“It’s way better than going off-campus [for an event],” said Coleman. “You can walk instead of relying on a bus or someone that has a car.”

Senior dietetics major Kevin Schimpf foresees that the volleyball team won’t be the only thing seeing an increase in attendance with the new arena.

“Of course, I think all of the concerts and other events will be better attended now that they are being held so close to campus.”

When compared to other arenas, the new appeal of this venue puts it ahead of others in the area, even if it is smaller.

“I think that ISU’s arena [Illinois State University’s] is old,” said Coleman. “Ours looks a whole lot better and appeals to more people. It’s a nice size, and you’re not far away from the action no matter where you are.”

One big change from games held in Markin is the admission price. Though it’s still free for students, faculty and staff, games cost $6 for adults and $3 for children. 

Coleman sees the price as a draw.

“Price wouldn’t matter,” Coleman said. “With the new arena, you’re more inclined to go. You’re paying for the venue, and what’s inside.”

Even with the steep attendance drop from Friday to Saturday, students plan to keep attending games.

“I’ll go back,” Doolin said. “I really enjoyed the volleyball tournament and I think women’s basketball will be more exciting in the arena as well.”

Some, however, see the crowds more dependent on the success of the team.

“As long as the volleyball team keeps winning, I’ll be there and the athletic department commits to putting good teams on to watch, people will go anywhere to watch a good team,” Schimpf said.