Opinion | Orange Krush seating suppresses student satisfaction  


Cameron Krasucki

Senior in Engineering, Charlie Foster, gets pumped up in the student section during the game against Wisconsin on Feb. 2. Senior columnist Matthew Krauter believes that the Orange Krush seating set up crushes school spirit.

By Matthew Krauter, Senior Columnist

The Illini men’s basketball team took the campus by storm last season during their electric 24-7 season. It’s a great time to be a fan of the orange and blue, as the team currently leads the Big Ten Conference, and departed players such as Ayo Dosunmu and Giorgi Bezhanishvili have found their niches in the NBA. But, the success of the team’s sixth member, the Orange Krush student section, has been throttled by lackluster stadium seating.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this season is the first time the underclassmen have had the chance to join the Orange Krush. Fans wasted no time reserving their spot at the games — all 3,000 student season tickets sold out in under three hours. Little did some of them know, they wouldn’t be sitting in the student section.

The Orange Krush sits east side alongside the court and behind the south end baseline, with a combined capacity of 1,200. This number is up from the previous 600 seats Krush claimed prior to $169.5 million State Farm Center renovations in 2014 — nowhere near the 3,000 capacity sufficient for all student season-ticket holders.

To account for the seat scarcity, students queue outside the State Farm Center hours before tip-off. Krush serves a dual role as a philanthropic organization and rewards members with earlier entry based on fundraising milestones. Fans raising $1,000 earn VIP status and enter ninety minutes before tip-off, followed by the Orange members who’ve raised $250, trailed by the Blue members contributing $100. White members, lacking fundraising but holding season tickets, enter last.

Even with fundraising tiers under your belt, there’s no guarantee you’ll queue early enough to score a wristband with access to the Krush section. The unlucky 1,800 are exiled to the summit of the 200 level, distant from the courtside cheers and likely in need of binoculars.

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It’s not necessary to sit courtside to enjoy an Illini victory with your pals, but the Krush camaraderie elevates the experience. Contributing to the collective “BOOM” after the Illini sink a three-pointer, taunting opposing players after they air ball and other game-tailored chants are traditions fans can look forward to. 

Getting yelled at by someone behind you in the 200 level that’s upset you’ve jumped out of your seat during an invigorating play isn’t so fun. You start to wonder why you didn’t opt to enjoy the game from Kam’s, Red Lion or Legends.

Slicing and dicing the student section during the basketball games, seating most of them behind all other attendees, isn’t an effective way to foster school spirit that could cheer the team on to victory. Fortunately, the State Farm Center’s 15,500 capacity yields some wiggle room for reorganizing seating.

The most obvious option is to expand the Krush section vertically from behind the south end baseline up the stands. Block I, the football student section, makes all students feel connected in the section because there’s continuity and compactness. Bringing students together also increases opportunities to up fan involvement with traditions like the coordinated cards from the football games.

This reform is compatible with Krush’s philanthropic vision. Seats closer to the court could serve as incentives for reaching higher fundraising milestones. But the tiers wouldn’t be an obstacle for students to enjoy the game equally and participate in all Krush has to offer. It’s a better system than exists now — currently forcing full-time students to fundraise or drop a hefty amount to sit by their friends.

Whether you know the home of the Fighting Illini as Assembly Hall or the State Farm Center, alumni and students can agree the Orange Krush is an integral part of game day. It’s time Krush reaches its full potential and further proves that Illinois is a basketball school.


Matthew is a senior in LAS.

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