After 20 months of waiting, empty and silent arenas are a thing of the past. Matador fans finally have returned to the stands, ready to cheer on CSUN athletics.
In April, CSUN Baseball was the first sport to welcome fans after pandemic restrictions eased. During the fall season, sports such as women’s volleyball and softball opened up to spectators. And now, winter sports men’s and women’s basketball are able to pack the Matadome,
In order to attend winter sports games, fans must provide proof of vaccination or provide a negative test result (home tests are not accepted) from within 72 hours of game time.
“With guidance from the university and per California requirements, we were excited to welcome our Matador supporters back at our athletics venues this fall,” said Director of Athletics Mike Izzi. “We look forward to the upcoming basketball season in The Matadome, as our fans provide a true home-court advantage for our teams, and the 2020-21 season was not the same without them in our venues.”
For some student-athletes, playing in front of a crowd for an entire season will be a first.
Sophomore softball pitcher Kayla Dominguez began her freshman season in 2021 with only teammates, coaches, staff, and umpires allowed at Matador Diamond. However, toward the end of the spring season, two fans per player, usually family members, were allowed to attend. For Fall Ball — the seven-game precursor to the regular spring season — CSUN softball played in front of spectators with the two-fan restriction lifted.
“Playing without fans changed the entire dynamic of the game, and it was definitely something that I was experiencing for the first time,” Dominguez said. “Now, I am experiencing something new again. Fans are a key part of the softball community and provide valuable support that gives us a necessary motivation that we need to win.”
Senior Darius Brown II also has witnessed these changes and their effect on the game over the past couple of years. Brown, a communication studies major, is a 6-foot-2-inch point guard for the CSUN Men’s Basketball team. Arriving at CSUN in fall 2018, Brown experienced the full college basketball experience, with a Matadome full of rowdy fans and the rush of adrenaline from the crowd. However, in 2020, he had to adjust to a new atmosphere and empty arenas.
“With friends and family in the stands, it gives us more motivation to do well as players, that is impossible to find in an empty gym,” Brown said. “It has been hard as a team to create our own energy and lack real home-court advantage. I am excited to get our fans back to the games to cheer us on and give us that extra push.”
The men’s basketball and women’s basketball seasons are underway and the final home women’s volleyball game will take place on Nov. 23. Fans are encouraged to check out game schedules and ticket information at https://gomatadors.com/sports/2015/6/22/Tickets.aspx. For more information about COVID-19 safety and fan requirements, call (818) 677 – 3208 or visit https://www.csun.edu/csunasone/athletics-and-student-athletes