By David Villavicencio
CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Some were skeptical and others confident, but the 15 fans who purchased Miami's "We Win, You Win" promotion can all agree that they made a great decision.
The deal, offered prior to Miami's Jan. 13 home contest against Maryland, allowed fans to purchase premium seats at the BankUnited Center for $75. But if Miami won, fans would receive premium seats for the next Hurricane home game for free!
Mari Gallet was looking for tickets to the Maryland game when she came across the "We Win, You Win" promotion and she instantly was interested.
"We wanted to go to the Maryland game," Gallet said. "When I saw the promotion, I thought 'what a great way to support the U!' The team had been doing so well, the seats were premium seats and I wanted the thrill of winning, then winning some more and continuing to see them."
Gallet is glad she purchased the deal because the Canes beat Maryland and that group of lucky fans got to witness Miami's historic 90-63 victory over No. 1 Duke free of charge.
"I always felt strongly that we would win the games," she said. "And it was fun to take the risk that my team would keep winning."
The win over Duke made the deal even better for the group who purchased the "We Win, You Win" promotion, as they enjoyed Miami's triumph over in-state rival Florida State for free, as well. The potential value of the deal made it irresistible to Gallet and her intuition was correct.
"I just knew we would win," Gallet said. "So the value of amortizing the cost over three games was great. We had given up our season tickets last year and have wanted to keep going ever since. This gave us the opportunity to do that."
Tory Fatjo of Pembroke Pines, Fla., said the three-game stretch was one of the most enjoyable for her as a Canes fan.
"After watching three games from great seats and seeing that Duke win, we obviously made a great investment! UM basketball is having some exciting times. We're glad we were a part of it."
That same group of fans will be attending Tuesday's match-up against Boston College without spending an extra penny. Miami, who has yet to lose at home this season, has given the lucky 15 fans an opportunity to see at least four games for the total cost of $75 dollars a seat.
Should the Canes beat Boston College, the lucky 15 will get their seats for Miami's Feb. 9 game against North Carolina for free. The pattern will continue until the Hurricanes drop a home game.
Alex Soria was a season-ticket holder for a few years before he gave up his seats prior to this season. But Soria jumped at the chance to see his Canes from great seats and he is glad he did.
"I was planning on going to the Maryland game anyway," Soria said. The price differential over the single game ticket was reasonable so I bought it. I've had a great time and plan on purchasing season tickets for next year."
While the "We Win, You Win" promotion has helped reinvigorate several Miami fans, it has also helped create two new ones.
Jeff Grajewski is a Michigan State alumnus, who attended his first Miami game on Dec. 28, when the Canes hosted his alma mater at the BankUnited Center. The experience Grajewski had was enough to get him interested in Coach Larranaga's team and his love for 'The U' has grown exponentially since.
"I looked online for tickets for the Duke game and came across the promotion," Grajewski said. "Given my belief in the team's talent, I thought this was a great way to possibly see two games. I expected the Canes to be competitive against Duke, but I certainly did not expect the blow out win! I truly became a real fan of this team following that game. I completely lost my vocal chords for a day after the game. The atmosphere was so charged and the students are all terrific."
Grajewski also shared the experience with his 13-year-old daughter. The two are relatively new to Miami and have adopted the Miami men's basketball team as their first local team to support.
"Both of us have thoroughly enjoyed going to the games," Grajewski said. "Being new to the Miami area, this has given both of us the opportunity to identify ourselves with the area and feel part of a great groundswell. I had a similar experience when we lived in Houston during the 1990s and the Rockets won two championships. The community really came together, and the same feeling seems to be happening in Miami."
The "We Win, You Win" promotion has gotten so much attention since its initial offering that the Hurricanes have decided to offer it again, beginning with Tuesday's game against Boston College.
Just like the initial promotion, fans can purchase premium tickets at the BankUnited Center for $75 per seat. Should the Hurricanes win, they will get tickets for the game against North Carolina for free and that will continue until Miami loses a home game.
Many of the 15 fans that purchased the initial offering have said that they would encourage others to take advantage of the second chance to support the Canes.
And if there are any doubts about purchasing the new offer, Gallet, who predicted that the Canes would beat Duke and Florida State, has another bold prediction for Miami hoops that should encourage hoops fans to join her in the "We Win, You Win" club.
"I'm so happy for this group of young men right now and for Coach Larranaga," Gallet said. "He's been to the Final Four but this time he's going to go with the best team and best university!"