Dedicated fans face cold nights for front row seats


The sun barely peaks through the clouds after the snowstorm Tuesday morning. Tuesday night temperatures had dropped to 15 degrees Fahrenheit, but that didn’t drive any of the campers outside of the Marriott Center away.

With Tuesday’s devotional being cancelled, avid basketball fans were able to set up their tents at midnight on Sunday night to secure them prime seats for the game Thursday night against Gonzaga.

Rosie Skinner and Rachel Cheney sit inside their tent outside the Marriott Center. (Photo by Rebecca Lane)
Rosie Skinner and Rachel Cheney sit inside their tent outside the Marriott Center. (Photo by Rebecca Lane)

“Because it is a Sunday, they don’t let you do it until after midnight, so you have to wait, kind of hang out,” Rosie Skinner, a BYU graduate from Draper, said. “It’s just kind of a known thing. The cops can kick you out if you’re here before midnight, so people wander. Midnight’s officially when we set up.”

Skinner, Rachel Cheney and the rest of their group were able to snag the first spot in the line of tents lining to the Marriott Center entrance. They set up camp at exactly midnight Sunday night, making a miniature home in their tents with cots, chairs, heaters, tables, lanterns, food and other things to make their short stay as comfortable as possible.

“We’re here every single game,” Cheney, a freshman from Los Angeles, said.

Since life responsibilities don’t stop, as much as these avid fans would like them to, for the BYU men’s basketball games, most groups create a schedule of when people will alternate turns sitting in the tent in order to hold their spot. Cheney and Skinner’s group signed up for 8–9 hours each to sit in the tent during the day between Sunday night and Thursday evening. The guys in the group signed up to sleep overnight.

“There are a few of us that come and we take shifts, so when I have a class or I have to work, someone will come and sit in it (the tent),” Chad Burton, a junior from Idaho Falls said. “Online we have a Google Doc that we keep track of when people will come.”

Despite coming Monday night at 5 p.m., Burton was only able to secure the seventh tent spot.

Sitting in their tents all day means these faithful Cougar fans have a lot of time to fill; the problem is there is no Wi-Fi connection. Luckily, some campers have data plans on their phones so they can do their homework or watch movies. Outside of studying and watching videos on their phone, campers spend their time doing homework, trying to stay warm and making new friends.

“The people who have been doing it for a while, we kind of all know each other,” Burton said. “So if you know the other campers, usually it is kind of a friendly relationship that you have because you know that you’re not just going to set up a tent and then leave.”

Despite the cold and long hours aware from modern conveniences, the time camping is worth it to this crowd of devoted fans, especially for this game.

“Gonzaga is No. 2 in the nation and that is the highest ranking team that we’ve ever hosted,” Elena Farnsworth, a frequent Marriott Center camper from Atlanta, Ga., said. “And last year we beat Gonzaga at home. We’re just an inconsistent team and I think if we play as well as we can, we definitely can beat them.”

If you want to find BYU basketball’s most dedicated fans, look to the front row of the Roar of Cougars (BYU’s student section). They’ll be cheering on the team, and they deserve that spot.

The BYU men’s basketball team plays the Gonzaga Bulldogs Thursday at 9 p.m. MST at the Marriott Center.

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