Imagine going to the free-throw line in a close game. You look up in the stands, and you see a cardboard cutout of your dog sporting Binghamton gear. It may sound crazy, but amid the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a reality that Binghamton student-athletes will now face during their home games at the Events Center.
Although Bearcats fans may not be able to attend games in person for the foreseeable future, that won’t stop fans from making their presence felt at home games. Thanks to an effort led by athletics ticket sales manager Mike Majewski, fans can purchase cardboard cutouts of themselves to be placed into the Events Center stands.
“It’s on our website … and they’re $75 each,” Majewski said. “Once we get your order, it’s a two-week turnaround until you’re in the stands here at the Events Center.”
On the site, fans will have the option to upload a personalized photo display that will be placed in the Events Center. The cutouts will be placed in West chairback sections and will be visible on camera for the television broadcasts. Therefore, if you tune in to ESPN+ or ESPN3, you may get a chance to see your cutout in action.
At least one notable alumnus has already taken advantage of the opportunity. One of Binghamton University’s most famous alumni, ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” co-host Tony Kornheiser, ‘70, purchased cutouts of his family for the stands. At BU, Kornheiser was sports editor of The Colonial News, which later became Pipe Dream. Kornheiser discussed the cutouts on the Nov. 16 episode of “The Tony Kornheiser Show.”
“You get [to be there for] the whole season,” Kornheiser said. “I sent in a check for more than the required amount and I said, ‘Do what you want with the rest of the money, it’s my school, do what you want with it.’”
His co-host and son, Michael Kornheiser, mentioned on-air that he called Majewski to figure out the requirements for the photos. Reflecting on the process, Majewski was pleased to witness the engagement from Kornheiser and many other fans.
“It’s been good to hear from a lot of Bearcat fans, current and past alumni, so it’s been exciting,” Majewski said.
With no fan attendance permitted at games, cardboard cutouts can help make Binghamton athletes feel more comfortable. The addition of the cutouts allows for an alternative to having an empty arena for athletes to play in at home games. According to Majewski, cutouts have received positive feedback from student-athletes thus far.
“They were pretty excited,” Majewski said. “Everyone loves it so far.”
This new setup will add an additional level of support for those who were not able to regularly attend Binghamton Bearcats games in the past, including parents of athletes who aren’t typically in town to attend games at the Events Center.
“[Women’s basketball’s junior guard] Hayley Moore got to see her mom, dad and brother out there,” Majewski said. “She was pretty fired up.”
Aside from parents, former BU athletes have ordered cardboard cutouts to attend the games, including last year’s women’s basketball senior class. Guards Kai Moon, ‘20, Carly Boland, ‘20, and Karlee Krchnavi, ‘20, can be seen in the Events Center this season.
Although pets aren’t typically permitted to attend games, this new set up will even allow them to attend games at the Events Center.
“You can [put up] your dog or your cat,” Majewski said. “Whoever wants to cheer on the Bearcats.”
Fans can visit bubearcats.com to purchase their cutouts.