Unbelievable: Duke basketball struggles to fill Cameron Indoor Stadium

Duke basketball (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

Who would have thought it would now be such a chore just to fill 9,314 seats for Duke basketball home games against conference foes?

No-show students. Limited interest from nearby middle-class fans. Unnecessary high costs for general admission. Yes, the Duke basketball program is losing what was once the nation’s most renowned homecourt advantage while choosing the wrong type of band-aid for the wound.

Last week, during Duke’s 89-59 home win over Miami, the undergraduates who did bother to attend might as well have enjoyed a pleasant picnic in the serene corners of the bleachers.

Ample space was certainly available. Plus, the noise level inside Cameron Indoor Stadium seemed somewhere in between that of a retirement home and a funeral home.

Several days ago, in anticipation that the students will once again somehow find better things to do at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday than cheer for a group of Blue Devils with net-cutting hopes still alive and well, tickets went up for sale at GoDuke.com. No, it’s not a holiday break.

A chance to stand among the Cameron Crazies for a late-January ACC battle? Folks must have already jumped on that opportunity? No way tickets are still available, right?

Think again. As of this article’s publishing on Monday night, anyone who is willing to pay $90 a pop can still reserve a spot in the stands — only feet away from the action, mind you — to watch No. 9 Duke (16-3, 6-2 ACC) host Pitt (13-7, 4-5 ACC) as the program welcomes back its former player and assistant in second-year Panthers head coach Jeff Capel.

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The price doesn’t help the problem. After all, many Duke faithful from the surrounding area who graduated from the university already have mega-money seats upstairs as season-ticket holders; meanwhile, blue-collar families nearby don’t have $600 just lying around to pay for four tickets, gas, parking, concessions, and a couple of T-shirts for the kiddos.

Sure, the late tip time is also a factor. But if Duke took $50 off the price per person, then no doubt the average Joe Duke Fan and his wife from Garner, N.C., would let their children stay home from school the next day in order to check off an item on the bucket list.

Common courtesy would say the tickets should be free. Besides, they are no cost to the students who don’t even want them.

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Furthermore, the private university sits on a nearly $10 billion endowment and annually generates tens of millions in profit from the basketball program.

So one is left to assume the Duke basketball ticket office would rather bid adieu to a legit homecourt advantage than to welcome with open arms all the riffraff who might smack the campus with an ugly stick by arriving in 1990-model minivans while wearing dingy clothes from Goodwill.

Unbelievable. Craziness.

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