New to the O’rena and Oakland basketball this season

Katie LaDuke, Staff Reporter

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As fans start filling into the O’rena for the season’s first basketball game, they may be distracted by the cheering and music. But this year, there’s a few things that have changed. 

Oakland Athletics constantly gets feedback from the community, and at the end of each year, Athletics makes an effort to review all of this feedback. 

Padraic McMeel, Deputy Athletic Director, wants to make it clear that the game day experience for the fans is a top priority for Athletics.

“We will always listen to our folks, and if we can implement and do those things then we will do it if it makes [the experience] better,” McMeel said.

As of recently, Oakland has been setting the standard for game day experience in the Horizon League. Much of this has to do with getting fans involved as much as possible and connected with the games on an emotional level.

“We have incredible young people that are representing Oakland University day-in and day-out,” McMeel said. “Our ultimate hopes are that [students] will always be fans, so when they graduate they’ll still want to come back, become season ticket holders, enjoy games, bring their families and things along those lines.”

In order to make these changes happen, Athletics works with the university as a whole to have conversations and come with a compromise that will benefit both sides.

Alcohol sales

For the first time through a new liquor license that has been put together for the university, the O’rena will officially be able to sell alcohol. However, this aspect is not for the general public just yet. These sales will be contained to the two areas that are for use by those who donate to Athletics.  

The GrizzGang’s VIP program

GrizzGang is the student organization that works with athletics to support the teams and to help create the student experience. This is the first year the program is doing their VIP program that allows early entry to games, a VIP shirt and lanyard, availability for bus trips and opportunities to exclusive giveaways. At Midnight Madnezz, GrizzGang gave away a free road trip with the men’s and women’s basketball teams to two VIP members.

“The VIP program is a great benefit to our great student basketball fans,” Jake Wolok, president of GrizzGang, said. “There will also be many more VIP exclusive giveaways at GrizzGang’s Home Opener Tailgate on Nov. 10.”

New spotlights

The lighting in the O’rena is a partnership with university since they do many events in there such as convocation. Different spotlights are being added at various points around the O’rena, which allows for various displays when the O’rena is dark. These lights are still being tested for the upcoming basketball season.

Wireless camera

As a way to help with promotion and fan interaction, a new wireless camera will be making its way through the stands. This will happen mainly during pregame, media timeouts and halftime so it can be seen on the video board.

“We did this for the Detroit game last year and had a tremendous response,” McMeel said. “We wanted to add that to the games this year for both the men’s and women’s.”

Exhibition games

Every year, Oakland men’s usually has just one exhibition game, which was scheduled for Nov. 6 against Davenport. The team has now added two additional ones. The closed Oct. 29 scrimmage against Central Michigan University has been changed to a hurricane relief exhibition game where all ticket proceeds will go to the American Red Cross to help the recent hurricane victims. The last exhibition game will be against Rochester College and is set for Nov. 2. All of these games will be played at the O’rena.