Huntley football's reserved seats going fast

Published: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 8:58 p.m. CDT

Rocky Scalise tends not to stay in one place too long at Huntley home football games, but he understands other members of his family tend not to be as mobile.

So when the school's athletic booster club introduced a reserved season ticket program for Red Raiders home games, Scalise made sure he didn't miss out. That's why he paid $400 for four seats on the 50-yard line, part of a grouping of 150 high-back chairs in Huntley's renovated stadium this fall.

The seats, which sell for $100 apiece and guarantee fans they'll be sitting in the identical spot for Huntley's five home sophomore and varsity games this fall, have gone quickly. The booster club sold 80 the first day. As of Tuesday, only 35 remained. The new reserved seating program is similar to the one Cary-Grove's booster club introduced for Trojans home gams last season.

For Scalise, whose son Jake will be a senior this season, knowing his parents – who live in Huntley's Del Webb community – will have a place to sit this fall offers a certain level of security.

Jim Ambrose, Huntley's booster club vice president, knows how valuable a comfortable seat can be. Ambrose, whose children are involved in Huntley's football and cheerleading programs, has, for the past three years, arrived on Friday afternoons around 4:30 for the start of the sophomore game and stayed until nearly 10.

"I think having a reserved seat every week would be appealing to people," Ambrose said.

Huntley is making $4 million in improvements to its athletic facilities, including at the school's football stadium. This fall, the Red Raiders will play on FieldTurf, becoming the first Fox Valley Conference team to make that kind of upgrade to its stadium's playing surface.

The Red Raiders are also coming off a 6-4 season under first-year coach John Hart – only a year after Huntley finished 2-7, creating a buzz around the community that booster club and school officials felt would make a reserved seating program successful.

The reserved seating section is designed to be the best seats among the home seating, which will more than double this year, going from 900 seats to about 2,000. The seats will be installed later this summer once the bleachers are replaced as part of the stadium renovation project.

The goal in the future is to have the entire middle section of the home stands dedicated to as many 450 reserved seats, which would be color-coded, creating a white "H" surrounded by red seats.

"The gist of this is to really develop more of a community atmosphere around the stadium," said Jeff Jenkins, who purchased a pair of reserved seats for the fall and who handles communications for the booster club. "But it's kind of taking the stadium, the whole sports idea, to the next level."

For Scalise, whose son has one more year remaining in his Huntley playing career, purchasing reserve seating not only guarantees his family will be there to see Jake Scalise play this season, but that they'll likely remain fans even after he graduates.

After last year's success under Hart, Scalise believes only bigger things are coming for the Red Raiders – and he plans to be there to watch the program grow.

"This could be the start of something really special and [the reserve seating] makes us feel like we're part of it," he said. "So even though my son is a senior, I plan on keep following Huntley football the next year, the year after that. So you definitely feel like you're buying into what they're doing."

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