Reilly Center to feature dozens of cardboard “fans” this season

photo: Seth Johnson/Twitter

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — While there will be no in-person attendance at St. Bonaventure men’s and women’s basketball games this season, nearly 200 Bonnies fans will be represented at the Reilly Center in the form of cardboard cutouts.

In November, the university announced that it would be offering cutouts for $100. Fans can select a custom image, of them or anyone else, to be printed and placed in the RC at every home basketball game throughout the 2020-21 season.

So far, 186 cutouts have been ordered, and Seth Johnson, SBU’s assistant athletic director for licensing and fan engagement, said that he anticipates that number to continue to climb.

“We knew that there would be interest,” Johnson said. “We have a passionate fan base. That’s what makes St. Bonaventure so special, is our alumni and fans that support us. Once we knew that we were not going to be able to have fans, it kind of picked up steam that we knew we would have placement for these.”

The cutouts will be placed in the “end zone” bleachers behind each basket. The school has already placed 120 cutouts, and a shipment of over 60 more is on its way.

“The end zone makes sense because it’s really one of the only areas that gets prominent television time, during free throws,” Johnson said.

If the end zones sell out, the university will look at other areas that could have prominent television time. However, Johnson said, there is still “plenty of space” left behind the baskets.

Fans can order cutouts throughout the year through printedfans.com, and can expect to see them up at the RC within 14 days after ordering.

“We had been looking into it with a couple different companies, it just took finding the right one,” Johnson said. “Everyone is a little bit different, and we just needed to find what worked best for us and the timeline that we needed.”

In addition to the dozens of Bonnies fans that have themselves depicted in the arena, some have gotten creative with their orders. Former Bonnies guard Marcus Posley is in the crowd, as is “Kramer” from the hit sitcom Seinfeld, “Gritty,” the Philadelphia Flyers’ mascot, as well as dogs, babies and a cat. SBU president Dr. Dennis DePerro recently ordered his cutout.

“It’s a way to be a part of the Reilly Center,” Johnson said. “I think that once we have our first game and people see them, there will be even more interest.”

Johnson said that next week, the athletic department would be releasing additional ways to get fans involved with the game-day experience at the RC.

“The fans, and especially our students, are what make it special,” Johnson said. “We’re going to be lacking that this year. We’re doing our best to keep people as involved as possible, and creat as many interactive things as possible.”

GELYON: Return of SBU athletics will be result of a team effort

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Nic Gelyon

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — As I spoke to student-athletes, coaches and representatives from the St. Bonaventure University athletic department about their effort to curb COVID-19 and return to action, I found that I wasn’t finding what I expected.

 I was looking for the moral dilemma. The internecine fight. 

Everybody felt too optimistic when I was talking to them. It was all too happy. 

But then I realized that St. Bonaventure has only had three positive coronavirus cases. The whole semester. All positive cases have since recovered. 

There is nothing to criticize. There is nothing to pick apart. There are no battles between coaches and presidents – ahem, Big 10 conference. There is absolutely nothing to be mad at. Nothing to punch the wall about.  

The fact of the matter is that it worked. The communication, the mindset, the plan. It all worked. 

And so, I leave you with this: we cannot become complacent, as a school community and as a society. Vigilance is the only way that the plan will continue to work.

It will take an effort from all. 

  • The NCAA has made November 25 the date when men’s and women’s college basketball will be allowed to begin. As of Friday, no schedule had been released for either season. Teams will not be allowed to play exhibitions or hold scrimmages prior to their first game. 
  • SBU’s COVID-19 return to action plan is, again, currently in its third and final phase. The plan was last updated on Sept. 14. The athletic department has treated athletes as if they had been “sedentary” throughout quarantine, attempting to prevent nagging injuries by getting athletes in the best condition possible. SBU athletic director Tim Kenney, in a statement to The Intrepid, said that the strength and conditioning department plans to ramp up activity in two-week increments, culminating in, hopefully, the playing of games. 
  • Speaking of which- it does not appear that fall sports are going to happen- not with any sort of normalcy anyway. As Oduro told me, teams are more likely to play against teams in the same region, as to avoid the COVID-19 restrictions and risks involved in cross-regional travel. Oduro mentioned the possibility of weekend tournaments involving four or so teams, with all teams – as he emphasized several times – staying in similar environments. 
  • It seems the athletic department is making fan engagement a priority during a time when not only are no sports happening, but college basketball is delayed. “We have stayed in constant communication with our fan base the past several months… to keep Bona Nation updated and entertained,” said Seth Johnson, assistant athletic director for marketing, licensing and fan engagement at SBU. He went on to say that the university is working on plans to keep the fans involved throughout the season, though there likely will be no fans in the stands.