COLUMBIA — Hundreds of MU students stood in line at Brady Commons on Monday, not to attend their first class, but to secure spots in the Tiger's Lair, the official student cheering section of the Missouri Tigers.
The football team's hopes for a national championship and new activities for the year brought out more students than usual, Tiger's Lair Director Chris Flanagan said.
Flanagan, a senior at MU, said demand is way up for places in the section, centered on the 50-yard line for home games at Faurot Field. He expected 900 to 1,000 students to sign up by the end of Monday, the first day to register.
When Tiger's Lair began in the mid-1990s it included just a couple hundred students, Flanagan said.
This year, 1,500 seats have been allocated. Sign-ups are scheduled through Wednesday but will end when all spots are filled.
MU freshman Kaitlin Oxenreider was one of those standing in line waiting to get to the box office Monday. She said she was willing to wait because the team and season are "expected to be so great. (It) just makes you want to join."
Oxenreider said she and her boyfriend had been in line since 10:40 a.m. By 12:20 p.m., they still had a couple dozen students between them and the door.
Being in the section during the 2008 football season will no longer be free, but membership will include more opportunities for group activities apart from home games. Members must now pay $10 to join, Flanagan said, but they will be eligible for giveaways during the season and can enter a flag football tournament later in the year.
In addition, Tiger's Lair will sponsor a November road trip to Iowa State exclusively for members. The group will also schedule an official trip in the winter for any bowl game where MU competes, Flanagan said. Tiger's Lair members will get priority registration for that outing before it is opened to the general student base.
In previous years, it has been difficult and expensive for students to organize their own trips to post-season events, Flanagan said. In the last three years, MU has earned bowl berths in Louisiana and Texas.
"We haven't done much of the traveling (previously)," he said.
On Monday, students didn't seem to mind the heat and the wait. When asked what she looked forward to the most in the 2008 season, Oxenreider smiled.
"Winning," she said.