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Wednesday, October 1, 2014 | Last updated: 3:18am

No sense in shrinking ZonaZoo



Arizona football is riding high now that first-year coach Rich Rodriguez has made the Wildcats relevant again.

So naturally, Arizona Stadium and its most raucous section would be packed, right? Well, no.

Enough people are leaving early that the UA has been displaying embarrassing “please stay the whole game” videos, starring the likes of Rodriguez and athletic director Greg Byrne.

A popular Arizona message board seems to have a “ZonaZoo sucks” thread every week. Their most frequent suggestion is to reduce the size of the student section.

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Larry Hogan / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The problem is there is no one to fill it. Attendance for the USC game, even with a Trojan fan inflation, was 47,822, which is less than the Toledo game.

Only 44,153 showed up for the Oregon State game, not much more than the 43,919 that came for the South Carolina State game.

UA fans as a whole are apathetic about football this year.

Supposedly the 7:30 p.m. starts were too late, and apparently an afternoon game is too early. Every year it’s too hot or too cold, too early or too late.

If the UA took some sections away from the ZonaZoo, who would fill them? The south end zone usually has a lot of empty seats and at this rate, the new north end zone will struggle to look presentable.

The ZonaZoo, though just 10 years old, has a much better track record than the rest of the stadium.

In 2007, for a game against NAU, when UA was coming off a 6-6 season and hadn’t been to a bowl game since 1998, the ZonaZoo section was so intense there were fights, and hundreds were turned away, while one student was tased.

The anti-ZonaZoo crowd argues that sections 1-10 are prime real estate and that they are very visible. That’s the exact reason why you want your loudest, zaniest, most photogenic fans there.

Even with the section 60 percent full, it is louder than the general public on key third downs. The rest of the stadium seems pretty out of it.

I sit with my parents on the comfy west side. During the Washington game, one middle-aged woman left to get food on four separate occasions. At the end of the USC game, one non-USC fan screamed at B.J. Denker to snap the ball with 20 seconds left on the play clock.

Frankly, the rest of the stadium was pretty dead for both the USC and Oklahoma State games. In past big games, the general public pretty much stood the entire game and was much louder.

Finally, non-students would not be able to handle the Zoo and its location. Many non-students left in the second half despite, being in shade for half the game. They wouldn’t last four hours in the sun, much less six or seven.

Yes, students leaving early is a problem, but cutting the section doesn’t really make any sense.

— James Kelley is a history senior. He can be reached at
sports@wildcat.arizona.edu or via Twitter @jameskelley520.


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