Walking into Harder Stadium for the first men’s soccer game of the year in 2010, 15,896 fans packed the stadium and created a lasting first impression of UCSB athletics for any newly initiated Gauchos.

UCSB upset No. 13 UCLA 2-0, sending a unified crowd clad in gold into a total frenzy, complete with tortillas flying through the air.

Santa Barbara has led the national attendance mark for men’s soccer for six consecutive seasons. Nevertheless, we want to see the same fan support at all UCSB athletic events.

Cue the new Loco Rewards program. The Loco Rewards program is an incentivizing campaign to get students more involved in UCSB athletics.

For the price of under $10 per quarter, this year-long program involves multiple free giveaways, beginning with one soccer-themed and one basketball-themed T-shirt. This is the same style T-shirt that has been given out at the first men’s soccer game in previous years.

Like in years past, the shirt will be gold, and if you wear it certain on days, there will be deals in participating Isla Vista restaurants to receive either free or discounted items.

In addition, the rewards program includes free bus rides and admission to the away Cal Poly soccer game and the Big West Basketball Tournament.

As a rewards program, the more events students attend, the more points they will accumulate, resulting in a chance to win unique prizes such as iPads, flat-screen TVs and Nike apparel.

With all of these incentives along with game-day giveaways, any student who is part of the Loco Rewards program will surely receive more value out of the program than the monetary amount they put in at the beginning of the year.

The vision of the athletic department is not only to increase attendance at UCSB athletic events, but to expand student enthusiasm and unity, as was displayed at the UCLA game.

For example, in the glory days of UCSB basketball when the Gauchos defeated No. 1 UNLV, the Thunderdome was the place to be. Glimpses of this energetic atmosphere certainly have occurred in the last two to three years, such as against Long Beach State or Cal Poly, but we would hope this rewards program would help to bring back this fervor at UCSB athletic events.

Even by attending one or two events, such as a softball game or a water polo match, students will have an opportunity to win worthwhile prizes. They will not be exclusively for the students who attend the most events, like the Gaucho Locos.

Keep in mind, as students we have the privilege of attending all UCSB athletic events for free. For most schools, Associated Students cover the cost of student tickets in their budget, but UCSB Athletics bears the burden here in Santa Barbara.

At several institutions, students even pay to attend sporting events such as basketball games. Here, the UCSB athletic department provides the student body with 35,000 free tickets each year for a $350,000 value.

The first men’s soccer game after students return to Isla Vista will be against Stanford on Sept. 27, where the attendance is expected to be over 10,000. This will be the biggest opportunity to be a part of the Loco Rewards program.

As students, we want to bring awareness and gain more UCSB student’s perspectives on this program. Let us know what you think and leave a comment online. After all, it is a program for the students.

A version of this article appeared on page 8 of May 23, 2013’s print edition of The Daily Nexus.

Art by Mingchen Shen of The Daily Nexus.