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Chron: Rockets Recognize Need To Fuel Fans' Fervor

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by ron413, Jan 5, 2004.

  1. ron413

    ron413 Contributing Member

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    ... Try to say that five times real fast!

    Jan. 5, 2004, 12:16AM

    House isn't rocking, yet
    Rockets recognize need to fuel fans' fervor
    By JONATHAN FEIGEN

    The guitar chords crash the way the drums used to, each punctuating the dunks on the video screen. Taryl Gray, the still-new Toyota Center announcer, calls out each Rocket's name as pyrotechnics blaze.

    And then, nothing. Maybe a few polite opera claps. Or a scattered mumble of a cheer.

    As the Rockets tonight complete the longest homestand since the Toyota Center opened, the advantages of their new home court have become clear.

    Rockets players rarely have difficulty hearing Jeff Van Gundy's instructions -- or conversations in the crowd. Fans get to hear the squeak of those top-of-the-line sneakers -- and the sound of sweat splattering on the court. Fans in the club level section for tipoff get to enjoy the extra-wide seats -- and the seats next to them.

    "It's tough, because coming from Sacramento it's hard to compare what goes on at Arco," Rockets forward Jim Jackson said. "They (Kings fans) are there early, they stay late -- no matter who you play. It's not just at the big games. Coming from there, there's a big difference. But it's our job to go out there and win some games, and, hopefully, the fans will come earlier and be a lot more supportive and louder in the game.

    "Of course, we'd like the crowd to be loud and cheer for us. But we hope we can go in any situation and get a win."

    Rockets players can't help but notice the oddly relaxed, almost serene atmosphere in their new home, especially compared to recent road games. Short of scheduling games for 9 p.m. on New Year's Eve and handing out 15,000 noisemakers, the comforts of Toyota Center have often meant shockingly quiet crowds, with large portions of sold seats near the court empty.

    "You definitely notice," Rockets forward Maurice Taylor said. "You notice when you see people wandering in, or the seats empty at the start of the game. When it gets loud, that's when you get that home-court edge, when you get people behind you.

    "It shouldn't be (a problem). We're paid to have energy and enthusiasm. But if you talk about home-court advantage, you can't have that without the fans. If you go to other arenas, obviously, you have to prepare for the team, but in Sacramento, Utah, you have to prepare for their crowd, too."

    The Rockets are 11-4, at home, 7-10 on the road. But they are playing only marginally better in Toyota Center. The Rockets are shooting 43.9 percent at home, 41.5 percent on the road and outscoring opponents 87.1 to 81.1 at home.

    But those numbers hardly match the explosions of offense in the introductions.

    "I think the NBA, since the scoring is down, I think a lot of fans are saying, OK, everybody is winning ugly," Kelvin Cato said. "And that's not what the fans really want. But if your team is winning, your team is winning. Right now, we're trying to stay above .500 and keep getting better and better."

    The Rockets said the lack of energy from the stands has not been a factor, arguing primarily it is their responsibility to provide the energy, but also that they have started well anyway. Their greater problem has been at the end of the game, when fans have been more interested in the outcome.

    "I think home-court advantage is overrated until the last three or four minutes," Van Gundy said. "I think if you do your job, and you're playing hard and you're in the game, the home court can be a factor late. But if you expect them to inspire you for 48 minutes, that's not their job.

    "It's up to us to play better to keep them there. It's just like any other entertainment. If they think they are being entertained and we're winning enough, then I think people will come."

    Compared to last season, they have come. Home attendance has increased from 13,785 last season to 15,116 this season. The top-selling seats have been relatively sparsely filled during the games, while the lounges remain full.

    "When we've had games that were close, the crowds were as loud here or louder than at Compaq Center," Rockets vice president Tim McDougall said. "There is a lot of exploring of the new arena going on. It's natural that they would be in their seats less than in Compaq Center or other older arenas. People feel we have great amenities. We designed it so people would want to take advantage of that."

    But it does not make for much of an atmosphere, a part of the appeal of attending games rather than watching at home.

    There is a trade-off to fans staying in the clubs, rather than the seats, that could work.

    "It's not as loud here, but that's just how it is," Rockets guard Cuttino Mobley said. "Maybe, since they're up in the clubs, they need to drink some more so they'll get a little rowdier."

    But if that doesn't work, the Rockets insist they are responsible for their play and that because they have started well at home, they can't blame the docile crowds or empty seats for their occasional struggles there.

    "You have to get yourself up," Eric Piatkowski said. "If it's dead, and there's nobody in the seats and you can hear a pin drop, you still have to get yourself going, and get yourself up and give it 100 percent. It's not exactly Arco Arena in here, but we have to get it going. "

    Still, the Rockets left Denver stunned at how in one year the Nuggets had electrified their crowd. And on New Year's Eve, Toyota Center finally did crank up the volume for the occasion. But if the Rockets have traded volume for comfort, they still believe winning could bring excitement to the building, and excitement could bring more winning.

    "Everybody wants to take advantage of the new Toyota Center, so, that's cool," Steve Francis said. "But I think we're playing a lot better at home than we are on the road. And as the season progresses, hopefully, things will start to change in our favor."

    http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/sports/2335513
     
  2. houstoncart

    houstoncart Member

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    I agree, the Rox need to invite Comets players to every game, so they can attract the loud Comets fans.
     
  3. gucci888

    gucci888 Contributing Member

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    I've complained about this since day 1 of the drums and day 1 at the Toyota Center:

    1. We have a horrible announcer, the guy might be a good dj, but he is a horrible announcer, PLEASE BRING BACK THE OLD GUY!!

    2. Our introduction is terrible, the drums just suck. They are not loud enough, and not good enough for an up and coming team in a brand new stage of their franchise.
    BRING BACK SOME ENERGY PUMPING SONG AND MAKE IT LOUD. GET THE CROWD IN THE GAME. THE ROCKETS ARE TRYING THEIR BEST TO GET THE CROWD INVOLVED, THE TC NEEDS TO GET THE CROWD PUMPED AS WELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Gucci888- devoted Rockets Fan
     
  4. ths balla

    ths balla Member

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    you are 100% correct, the announcer and introduction need to be changed
     
  5. montelwilliams

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    Nice to read Tim's comments in the article.
     
  6. l3igballer23

    l3igballer23 Contributing Member

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    lol, was anyone else at the Seattle game where he slaughtered Vladimir Radmanovic's name... pathetic. Also the way he starts the "Defense" chant is hilarious.
     
  7. arif1127

    arif1127 Contributing Member
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    I went to the seattle game last week and there was a new intro, with fireworks and no drums, a little bit better but not great. I don't think the problem is with the rockets or the toyota center, it is the fans, I've been to three games in the last two weeks and each time I have been the loudest person in the section I have been sitting in, and no one else was yelling at all, except a few drunk guys. Actually, I apparently yelled too loud for some, I used no profanity nor did I say anything towards the rockets but some idiot hit me with a quarter while walking out of the arena b/c "I was yelling in his ear the whole game", I didn't pay good money to sit on my arse watching the rockets when I could get behind the rocks and enjoy myself by yelling for the team. So whatever everyone thinks the problem is, its not, unless of course you blame houstonians for being lazy, non-enthusiastic, weak basketball fans.(that only refers to the avg fan in the toyota center)
     
  8. Mr. Mooch

    Mr. Mooch Contributing Member

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    "When we've had games that were close, the crowds were as loud here or louder than at Compaq Center,"

    That ain't saying much.
     
  9. mateo

    mateo Contributing Member

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    What do they expect? The NBA has gone corporate.

    "Real" basketball fans dont own the majority of the lower level, center court Club seats. Corporations do. I've sat in my company seats (Section 110, row 10) about 4 times now and the seats around me are usually half-filled. Meanwhile, up in the rafters, the arena has been packed. In my area, people were either drinking in the lounge or showing up late and leaving late.

    Until the Rockets starting playing consistent winning basketball, the casual business fan isnt going to go out of his way to get there early. Hell, he'll be busy entertaining at some downtown restuarant before the game and waiting for the traffic to die out or Tom Ridge lines to disappear.

    Oh, and its hell getting out of that parking garage. I dont even use my corporate passes. Easier to pay the $20 and go in and out the front door.
     
  10. RocketsPimp

    RocketsPimp Contributing Member

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    Great! Glad to hear there are plenty of open seats for when I want to move down. Thanks corporate Houston!
     
  11. A-Train

    A-Train Contributing Member

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    I'm getting four of those corporate snob seats right behind the Rockets bench for the T-Wolves game on the 17th. Nothing like seeing the Rockets get their asses kicked up close and personal!

    Maybe if the Rockets didn't play such poor basketball, there would be more fans. Even with Moochie gone, the offense still sucks...

    Don't worry about the Comets. Whether it's chicks or guys, it's still houston basketball fans. Once the Comets have a bad season or two, the fans will mysteriously disappear and the arena will be quiet again...
     
  12. pasox2

    pasox2 Contributing Member
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    Taylor was the only one who recognized the basketball sucks.
    It's just piss poor entertainment. AND JVG makes it even worse.

    THE NEW RULES SUCK!!!!!

    We want to see stars do superhuman things. We don't want to watch the players reduced to what gramps can do in the backyard when he's feeling spry.
     
  13. munco

    munco Member

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    I'll be at the Rockets game when they play the Knicks this Thursday. I think that some of the cheers for the Rox (granted many to root for Yao) from MSG will be comparable to what the Rox have received in a lot of the games at the Toyota Center this year. Thanks to league pass, I've witnessed a lot of the different arenas and I'd have to say we have one of the quietest crowds in the league.
     
  14. mbiker

    mbiker Member

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    Trade all the Kings players (with coach) for all Rockets players and every seat would be filled in the Toyota Center. A good, smart, well-run offense is fun to watch. Lets face it, the JVG style, as effective as it will be in the future, is boring.
     
  15. B-ball freak

    B-ball freak Contributing Member

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    First, we cannot compare to Sac, Portland or Utah. These are 1-sport towns. Second, Houston is a town of carpetbaggers. Since so many people have moved here from elsewhere over the years, they have brought their allegiances with them. That also has a lot to do with the complacency Houston fans will show a mediocre team. Third, and this has been mentioned before, if you keep the drum intro, mike it. It needs to go out through the PA. If it rattled everyone's fillings it would be much, much more effective.


    I heard the Radmonovic blunder on the telecast. It almost seemed intentional. I could also hear the crowd laugh (Rad-man was laughing too).
     
  16. nocore

    nocore Member

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    The knicks had the league's longest sellout streak under JVG. It ended after he left.

    So JVG's game was more entertaining?
     
  17. annthuyn

    annthuyn Member

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    and did people around you give you weird looks and stuff?
    stupid people.. when i got excited and into the game, i'd scream and cheer and stuff.. people around me would just look at me weirdly.
    i really see no point into going if you're not gonna cheer and root for your team.
     
  18. Easy

    Easy Boban Only Fan
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    No, NY fans are crazy. :p
     
  19. Easy

    Easy Boban Only Fan
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    BTW, I agree that part of the problem is that basketball goes corporate. Those people should be moved to sky boxes like in football. Let the real fans support their team up close.
     
  20. dskillz

    dskillz Contributing Member

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    Exactly. The way Toyota is constructed, the real, loud fans are so far away they are not heard at all. But the fat cats who couldn't care less about the game are in the lower seats. It really is a shame that the average fan is priced out of getting a decent ticket to see the Rockets. Also, why is the seat police working so hard to keep the average fan from 'upgrading' his/her seat? I mean, when there is 10k in the house, I am thinking you would want some fans in the lower level. Mixing some rowdy fans from up top in the lower level would help the atmosphere. But I don't think the NBA cares one bit. As long as the corporations are buying the tix, that is all that matters.
     

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