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Creighton plans full capacity crowds for men's basketball at CHI Health Center
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BASKETBALL

Creighton plans full capacity crowds for men's basketball at CHI Health Center

Jon Nyatawa discusses a big gain for the Jays on the recruiting front.

Creighton informed season ticket holders Wednesday that it plans to host full capacity crowds for men’s games at CHI Health Center next season.

CU also announced that it will not be raising season ticket prices or increasing the per-seat donation requirements.

Bluejays officials, in conjunction with Douglas County Health Department guidelines, adopted a limited attendance policy this past season due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols. They played their first five home games without fans and sold no more than 15% of tickets for any of the nine contests after that.

That created a significant hole in the budget — nearly half of the athletic department’s $26 million of 2019-20 revenue came from men’s basketball ticket sales, donations and in-arena sponsorships.

But the hope is next season will be closer to normal in the CHI Health Center stands.

CU’s Wednesday correspondence to season ticket holders indicated that there still could be more changes to the attendance policy as the summer unfolds. The start of the 2021-22 season is still six months away.

Creighton has not released its nonconference schedule. But CU is expected to play home games against Arizona State and an unnamed Big 12 opponent. It’ll also have 10 home games against Big East foes.

The Jays ranked in the top 10 nationally in reported average attendance for the previous 10 seasons before last year’s pandemic-impacted campaign. Creighton averaged 17,314 per game in the 2019-20 season, ranking fifth in the country.

But when it opened play last season, CU only allowed the team’s close friends and family to attend games. It played those first five contests with a crowd of less than 300, including event staffers.

The Jays eventually loosen those attendance restrictions somewhat. They started at 10% capacity and gradually increased as the season unfolded. Fans were required to wear masks and follow social distance guidelines.

The largest announced crowd last year was 2,544 for an 86-70 win over No. 5 Villanova. Much smaller than normal. But coach Greg McDermott said after the game there was a different energy in the building that day.

“Even the referees looked at me at the start,” McDermott said. “Everybody was like, it feels so good just to hear some noise and have some people enjoying a college basketball game. I’m glad we got to share it with some people.”

The Jays are preparing to welcome even more folks back next season. All 17,000 of them, actually.


Omaha World-Herald: Local Sports

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