After a sold-out showing for the biggest regular-season game of the year against Emmanuel College last week, the Emerson athletics department decided to increase their security and set aside more tickets for the visiting team during the Great Northeast Athletic Conference playoffs.
As the Emerson men's basketball team prepared for the postseason games ahead, security was increased both in the gym and the adjoining Piano Row lobby due to the spike in fan attendance.
Emerson athletics opted to put extra security staff and a Boston Police officer in the building to control fans and monitor the entrance to the dormitory.
"[The Emmanuel game] was a good learning experience and I wouldn't have done it differently," said Roger Crosley, the Coordinator of Athletic Operations at Emerson. "But now we have learned and we can address those issues."
On Feb. 19, an Emmanuel student was escorted out of the gymnasium by Emerson police after acting disorderly. Crosley attributed the high attendance to the proximity of the two schools.
"That was the first game Emerson has ever seen that was so big," Crosley said. "We have never had a capacity problem in the gym or anything like it before."
Depending on the team for each game, Emerson will give a certain amount of tickets to the opposing school and a specific section of the gym will be reserved. If the Lions face a team that will not bring many fans, extra tickets will not be distributed.
If the Lions reach the GNAC championship, Emerson will give the opponents 60 tickets, approximately a quarter of the seats in the gym, to distribute. Athletics will also provide tickets for the home fans before the game. According to GNAC league rules, students are required to pay three dollars-per-ticket and non-students will be charged five dollars.
In addition, Emerson will implement higher security by adding a school police officer, putting the nine full-time staff members of the athletic department on duty and hiring a Boston Police officer to patrol the entrance to the Piano Row dormitory. Crosley said that the athletic budget covered the cost of the extra security, but he did not have the exact cost.
Lions senior guard Rhys Thieriot said he feels the extra precautions may be a bit over the top.
"I think it's a lot of hype about the dangers at an Emerson basketball game," said Thieriot, a media studies major. "I have been at these games for four years and I have never seen a fight, just shouting and teasing."
Deputy Director of Emerson Public Safety Scott Bornstein said there is a concern for safety if the Lions face Emmanuel in the championship game.
"This is probably the first time in athletic history they are worried about a difficult crowd and overcrowding," Bornstein said. "But you have to plan for the worse and hope for the best."
Despite the added fan excitement surrounding the playoffs, Thieriot said he expects attendees to keep themselves under control.
"Adding more security is OK but I don't see the dire need for it," said Thieriot. "I don't expect anything outrageous to happen at any game."