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Ticket office avoids promoting tournament

John Tierney | Friday, March 9, 2007

The World’s Most Famous Arena didn’t get any extra publicity from Notre Dame.

With the Big East men’s basketball tournament underway at Madison Square Garden in New York and a significant number of students leaving campus early for spring break, it would be reasonable to expect a large Leprechaun Legion contingent to attend the games.

But few students will attend Notre Dame’s games this weekend, at least partially because neither the ticket office nor the athletic department promoted the availability of tickets for students.

While the lack of publicity contrasts greatly with the high-profile nature of the December lottery system for Sugar Bowl tickets, the University made a conscious decision not to promote tickets.

“As a general rule, the University does not promote off-campus athletic events that occur on class days,” Notre Dame Ticket Office Director Josh Berlo said.

Berlo also cited the lack of student interest in Big East tournament tickets over the past few years as a reason for not promoting the event. He said the ticket office has received fewer than 10 ticket requests in the past two years, when the tournament has conflicted with class days. All of those requests, Berlo said, have been accommodated.

While Berlo said student interest has never been high, senior and Leprechaun Legion president Johnny McDermott said he’s gone to the tournament in recent years.

“In the past, when the Big East tourney and spring break coincided, I have gone to Notre Dame’s games in the earlier rounds, including freshman and sophomore year,” he said.

But McDermott did not attend the tournament’s quarterfinal and will not make the semifinal because of “midterms and other assignments I have due Wednesday and Thursday,” he said. He said he will only go to Madison Square Garden if the Irish make it to the championship game Saturday night.

McDermott, who is from the New York area, will attend the championship game using privately acquired tickets, despite the availability of University tickets.

“I have not heard about University student ticket distribution,” he said.

Leprechaun Legion vice president Walter Machnicki is not going to the tournament because he will not be in the New York area during spring break.

“Either way, I was aware that the University had student tickets because I’ve been there before,” he said. “But I haven’t seen anything publicized this year.”

Berlo said the ticket office was happy with the turnout in years the Big East tournament was held during Notre Dame’s spring break.

“A few years ago, when the Big East men’s basketball tournament was held over spring break we had tremendous support from the approximately 100 students that made the trip,” Berlo said. “It was great to have a little bit of the Legion and its home court advantage at Madison Square Garden.”

Notre Dame plays Georgetown tonight at 7 in the conference semifinals.