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The Pros and Cons of Holding Spring Commencement at Hertz Arena

Bella Lopez

FGCU will host its Spring Commencement ceremonies at Alico Arena on May 4 and 5, 2024. There will be four ceremonies, two on each day including all of the graduating students from the  nine different colleges. 

For students and their guests, FGCU provides useful resources and information about graduation on the university website. However, despite FGCU providing great information to its students and families interested in commencement, there is still one major issue: limited tickets and capacity.  

All of the graduating seniors have been issued up to four tickets for the student’s designated ceremony. If extra tickets do become available, they will not be announced until one week before graduation. For many students, including myself, this is a major inconvenience as some of the closest family members could miss the ceremony because of limited capacity. I have a bigger family with at least 5 or 6 members who want to be in attendance at my upcoming ceremony on May 5. In previous years, I have noticed that some extra tickets usually become available, but I will need to act fast. 

Including the extended section that is only open for commencement and high-demand basketball games, Alico Arena holds a maximum capacity of around 4,500 occupants. Meanwhile, there is another arena nearby that holds more capacity: Hertz Arena. With a seating capacity of over 7,000 occupants, Hertz Arena is only five minutes away from FGCU. From October through April, the arena is busy with hosting Florida Everblades hockey games but hosts a variety of events year-round, even during hockey season.

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Hosting fall ceremonies (which includes summer graduates) at Hertz Arena in December may be difficult due to the Everblades’ season, but if Hertz can schedule concerts between Everblades home games during hockey season, why can’t it also do graduation ceremonies? 

May is also graduation season for Lee County High Schools and some schools have previously used Hertz as the venue. However, according to the Lee Schools website, Hertz will not be hosting any graduations (at least for all public schools) this Spring. Lee Public Schools will mostly use Alico Arena and Suncoast Arena at Florida SouthWestern State College (which holds around 3,500 occupants) this coming May.

I cannot be too sure about this, but my best guess is that Hertz Arena is a lot more expensive to use with its bigger capacity. In my hometown, Amerant Bank Arena, home of the Florida Panthers NHL team, is near my high school but my school uses a smaller capacity arena at another nearby university. 

For the sake of FGCU and its ceremonies, it also feels traditional in a sense to have its commencement on its campus. Instead of having it at a “new” site for graduates, students can walk their last steps as an Eagle at The Nest before taking off into the real world.

Regardless of what happens and what will probably not happen in the future, it is likely that FGCU will continue to have its commencement ceremonies at Alico Arena with four tickets for each student who is walking. Although there are some inconveniences with limited capacity, the only thing seniors like myself will remember later in life is having the amazing opportunity to have one last goodbye at FGCU.

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