Even at the professional level, it has become a common practice for teams to host themed home games for the purpose of attracting spectators and increasing ticket sales. Themed nights are a great way for teams to poach fans of various brands and subcultures that may have little to no correlation with the actual main event.
Tonight at Credit Union 1 Arena, this made for a rather retro in-game experience for fans who braved the cold weather and came out to watch the UIC Flames take on the Detroit Mercy Titans, who are now lead by former Indiana head coach Mike Davis.
Just like Cyndi Lauper’s iconic track Girls Just Want to Have Fun, or Michael Jackson’s Beat It, the 80s night theme at UIC was a major hit.
“As far as I know, this is the first time we did 80s night. You see guys walking around tonight with the ghost busters outfits, it’s pretty cool,” said Denny Wills, who oversaw UIC’s basketball program for over 30 years until he retired in august of 2017.
“What we usually do is we meet in the fall. And we kind of look at different things, and we think of things we might be able to do to attract a crowd. And Detroit is a team that’s been in the league the longest. They started in the league in 1985, so tonight’s theme kind of fits in well for a game against them,” added the UIC hall of famer.
Among those sitting in the student section, there wasn’t a single individual who would have been able to say that they lived through the 1980s, but that didn’t get in the way of them embracing the theme.
“Well, I love all of the 80s movies because my parents made me watch them when I was growing up. And I’m also a sucker for a good costume. I love to dress up for events and stuff, so that was one of my big motivations for being here tonight,” said Samantha Lammert, a freshman at UIC.
“I really love Pretty in Pink, as well as 16 Candles,” added the 18 year old, who majors in acting as part of the school’s BFA program. “This is my first time at a UIC Flames game actually,” she confessed. “But I totally plan on coming back. I’m really glad the theme of tonight’s game caught my attention.”
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Although Lammert is only just beginning to assimilate into the UIC community, she admitted that the atmosphere at a Flames home game actually surpassed her expectations.
“I think it’s a really good atmosphere at the game here tonight. There’s a good amount of people, and I love all of the neat things they’ve been doing during timeouts like throwing bubble gum into the crowd and giving away CDs from the 1980s bands.”
Stephanie Reichard, another 2000 baby and a close friend of Lammert, is also a freshman at UIC. She studies disabilities and human development, and explained how the two girls came up with their uniforms for 80s night.
“I have a lot of different odd pieces from different outfits, so today when I was in class, I looked up 80s workout outfits and I knew I had the body suit so I just took little bits and pieces from random things that I had and put it together,” offered Reichard.
In terms of the actual basketball game that took place on Thursday evening, the raucous 1980s themed crowd at UIC was treated to a convincing 79-67 victory over Detroit Mercy. The Flames next play on Saturday when they host the Oakland Golden Grizzlies.
The two teams will tip off at 3:12 pm.