A Financial Negative Could Be A Marketing Positive As Seton Hall Showcases Its Program In A Unique Setting

Seton Hall’s home game against St John’s on Monday night wasn’t meant to be some kind of retro or “back-to-back” night. The fact is that the game was already scheduled for December 20 at the Prudential Center.

But when the COVID pause forced a delay from the initial date, a scheduling conflict turned the game into a financial negative for the Sports Department of Seton Hall. But some quick thinking also turned it into a potential positive, both in the long term in marketing the school’s men’s basketball program and in the short term, in perhaps creating the advantage of a one-night home pitch.

When St. John visited Seton Hall Monday night at 9 at the Walsh Gym campus in South Orange, New Jersey, a big crowd was expected at the first Big East Buccaneers game there since March 2, 1985. But in this case, capacity means 1,316 Spectators only, and it’s a very intimate venue for the Energy Conference competition.

This intimacy will be heightened by the fact that more than 900 people are expected to be students, which was the first priority as the venue is not large enough to accommodate the entire program season ticket base.

Jay Judge, Seton Hall manager, said the number of season ticket holders is four times Walsh’s capacity.

Thus, he said, “We knew that it would not be possible to accommodate everyone.

“We knew we wanted to do something as fair as possible, but perhaps give us the best atmosphere possible,” added the school’s senior co-athletic director of development and outdoor operations.

All of this was necessary when Big East decided that January 24th was the most mutually convenient date for St. John’s and Seton Hall to set up the game. (It comes two days after the meeting at Madison Square Garden, won by the visiting pirates, 66-60.)

But the show’s regular main arena, the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, was not available because the New Jersey Devils host the Dallas Stars. So what now?

Seton Hall’s athletic directors, led by athletic director Brian Felt, were inspired in part by what the Texans did on November 29, when new coach Chris Bird played a non-conference game against Sam Houston State on campus Gregory Jim, where the Longhorns had not been played since 1977. Beard classified it as a student-only game, although select important characters were present.

“I can’t think of a better way to reward all their efforts,” said Thomas Chen, Seton Hall associate athletic director for digital media and communications. “The students have been great.

“I think with the complete COVID shutdown last season, a lot of students realized what they were missing out on,” he added.

Other than family members, fans were not allowed at Seton Hall matches in 2020-21 until about 1,000 people were allowed in the final on their home ground.

“I was just amazed that we had an entire student section of Fairleigh Dickinson,” Chen said, opening the season.

“Knowing that, knowing that our players are really thriving in our student division,” said the judge, “the light bulb switch went off and everyone said, ‘Wow, that could be something really special. ”

The next step to making this happen was to try to accommodate as many of the 1,655 season ticket holders — a record for the program, Chen said — as possible. Chen said a website was set up on January 11, where season ticket holders who want to attend can enter a sweepstakes, which runs for a week. He said that all those who applied were accommodated, and then some of the remaining tickets were given to the rest of the students.

It is estimated that over 900 attendees will be students of Seton Hall, accounting, of course, for Lists of Seton Hall and St. John’s, Company Partners, etc. However, the majority will be students.

However, there is the specter of revenue loss. Seton Hall usually has a capacity of 10481 for its home games in the Prudential Center, i.e. with only the lower bowl open.

The judge said, “It is without a doubt, a huge financial hit, and we are still thinking about what it will be and what it will look like. It is a six-figure hit. When we can’t play these games in the Pru Center, it is very difficult.”

However, they can now showcase their school and program in a unique way. The game will be broadcast on FoxSports1.

“The Walsh Gym has always been historic,” Judge said of the venue, which first opened in 1941. Now it’s the historic Walsh Gym in 2022. It has a beautiful scoreboard in the middle. It has two video wall panels. It has courtside tables with LED lights. It has bench seating throughout the gym now. It has that new feel. While still enjoying that historic feel.

“It’s an exceptional advantage on the field,” he added. “And to be able to show that and put that on national TV, in a game we never thought we’d get[here]…I think we’re all very excited about that.”

“I can only imagine what the weather would be like,” Chen said. “I am absolutely confident, in the way they have supported student athletes this year, as loudly as I heard against Texas and Rutgers — if they brought in the same energy, it would be deafening in Walsh and it would be an amazing home court advantage.”

“It’s great to have a game for all the students,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said after Saturday’s game. … (the students) have been great all year. They’ll be great on Monday.”

“It’s their game,” Chen said.

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