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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
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Fans pour into Reed Arena to watch as Aggies rack up wins, make NCAA Tournament push

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Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Graduate G Dexter Dennis (0) celebrates after scoring during Texas A&M’s game against Auburn at Reed Arena on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2022.

Ask any sports marketing specialist what tactics can be taken to increase attendance at athletic events, and you may get the same typical responses: Giveaways, ticket discounts, free parking and a reward system are tried and true strategies. But anyone can tell you that there’s one simple action that trumps these.

Winning. 

The evidence of this is well-documented in the realm of college basketball, as perennial powers such as Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina routinely lead the nation in attendance totals. Despite the relatively small size of their arenas, Duke and Houston continually fill their homes to the brim.

The Texas A&M men’s basketball team has experienced this effect firsthand in 2023. As the Aggies sit at second-place in the SEC standings after an 83-78 win over Auburn on Tuesday, Feb. 7, each of their four games at Reed Arena this semester has recorded an attendance of over 10,200 rowdy fans. Three of these had crowds of over 12,100. The 12,989-seat facility hasn’t drawn crowds of over 12,000 in three straight home contests since 2016, or in four consecutive conference games since 2010.

Since students returned for the spring term in mid-January, the 12th Man has shown up in full force, averaging 11,915 supporters across the four contests. A&M also took on LSU and Missouri in College Station during the winter break, attracting crowds of 9,319 and 6,916, respectively. 

Over the season as a whole, an average of 8,552 fans per game have flocked to the Aggies’ friendly confines. This marks an improvement over last season when A&M garnered a crowd of 6,713 per home contest. That campaign saw the 12th Man set the Reed Arena attendance record, as 14,036 flooded through the doors on Jan. 19, 2022, when the Aggies dropped a 64-58 decision to Kentucky.

Such a sight was a rarity during the 2021-22 season, as the loss to the Wildcats was the only instance in which A&M amassed an attendance of over 10,000 fans. A half-empty, low-energy arena seemed to be the norm, perhaps making the abundance of fan support this time around so special. A year ago, as the team found itself amid an 8-game losing streak in SEC play, one never would have expected lines forming outside of the facility an hour and a half before doors open, sprints to claim a first-row seat and a rowdy environment from start to finish to be the standard. 

This can almost certainly be credited to the Aggies’ best start to conference play in program history, with a 9-2 mark. At 17-7 overall, A&M has turned a corner after a disappointing non-conference slate in which they dropped matchups with Murray State, Colorado and Wofford. Now, the Aggies are rolling as they push for the ever-elusive NCAA Tournament berth.

The “Reed Rowdies” have made their presence felt as the Aggies take the court this year, creating one of the top environments in the SEC. Chants of “Brick,” “You” and “AAAAA” echo through the stands as students crank up the energy, looking to create a home-court advantage for A&M. While fans erupt with excitement and celebration after every 3-pointer, rocking dunk or defensive stand, the players themselves have taken notice.

“I think having a crowd like that at home benefits us more than the away team,” graduate guard Dexter Dennis said after a 54-52 win over Florida on Jan. 18. “It can be a little intimidating if you’re on the other team. I was a little shocked … I didn’t know we did it like that, because there were a lot of people way up top. That was really impressive to see.”

The jump in attendance and lively environment isn’t just for show, either. Crowd noise, yells and other sorts of distractions can have a direct impact on the outcome of the Aggies’ matchups, as evidenced by gutsy home victories over the Gators, Vanderbilt and Auburn. While fans’ heart rates and blood pressure have been tested, it’s what has made pulling out a win so much sweeter.

“I think between the community and the students, it completely changes the ambiance of the arena,” Williams said after a 72-66 win over the Commodores on Jan. 28. “I would say as emotionally drained our team played, without the environment and the arena tonight, the result would have been different. We are incredibly grateful for the result, but we are also aware of how it transpired. I think the students in the end zones an hour before the game, all the season ticket holders and all of those buying single tickets … We are grateful. It for sure helps us. I think their energy affected our group, particularly in the second half.”

With a 12-1 record, the Aggies have been nearly perfect at Reed Arena this season, save for a puzzling 67-62 upset loss to the Terriers on Dec. 20, 2022. A&M will look to continue its momentum and NCAA Tournament push with three more games in Aggieland on the slate. Still, the road won’t be easy, with matchups against upstart Arkansas, No. 6 Tennessee and No. 3 Alabama on the horizon. But despite the level of the opponent, the message to fans will remain the same.

Get to Reed.

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