UH Football Ticket Problems
Friday - June 30, 2006
Season tickets for UH football went on sale Monday and will remain on sale for the remainder of the summer. These sales are extremely important to the financial health of the athletic department because at most NCAA Division 1A institutions, football drives the bus.
It has to provide significant profits that can help fund the non-revenue sports, which include all but men’s basketball and the volleyball programs. Actually, women’s basketball and baseball take in revenue, but not nearly enough to meet expenses. Consequently, the dollar numbers for football receive serious attention.
The announcement that season ticket renewals came in at 82 percent, resulting in just over 16,000 tickets sold, caused some consternation for those concerned with the football program, It seems there are many reasons for the decline, and which ones are important depends on whom you talk to.
Here’s a partial list of the most frequently cited reasons for fewer people buying season tickets:
1) Tickets have become extremely expensive because of required Premium Seat Contributions.
Yes, UH has joined most other D-1A programs in charging for the right to buy some seats in the stadium, but it is not all the seats. Of the 50,000 seats in Aloha Stadium, 28,500 have seat premiums, the other 21,500 do not.
The PSC ranges from $35 to $200 for the best seats. Media stories reporting PSC’s ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 are incorrect. ‘Ahahui Koa Anuenue, the umbrella booster organization, has packages at those prices, but they include men’s basketball, both volleyball teams and baseball, and feature other amenities like premium parking.
2) Aloha Stadium is fan unfriendly.
This perception has been around for a long time, but in the last couple of years the stadium management has made a strong and serious effort to respond to customer needs. Most stadiums ramped up security efforts following 9/11, and Aloha Stadium may have been slower than some to relax those procedures. The parking situation has improved greatly, and bag searches are now conducted much more efficiently. Little things would help the perception - like letting people keep the tops to their bottled water. One big item would help tremendously: Suspend the swap meet on game days, and open the gates earlier.
3) Pay-per-view TV kills the gate.
Because no other college team has pay per view as of yet, UH is in uncharted waters here. The goal was to widen the fan base and earn revenue from those who can’t or won’t come to see the games in person. Some believe the initial price for PPV was too low, essentially encouraging fans to stay home. The problem here is that TV used to be available for free, albeit on a same day delay basis, so pricing was a tricky proposition. While the revenues are great, it doesn’t work if you sell thousands of packages and have a stadium only one-third full. It’s probably too soon to draw firm conclusions about PPV, but it bears a close watch.
4) It’s not my team anymore. There is little question that some fans felt disenfranchised by the changes in nickname, logo, uniforms and music.
It probably didn’t help that the changes were made unilaterally by then new head coach June Jones. Those decisions are not normally the purview of the head coach, but Jones stepped into a situation where he had that latitude, and he jumped in with both feet. Jones made those changes with the best of intentions, and a number of them have worked well, but some of the fans have lost their sense of ownership of the team. It may have as much to do with how it was done as what was done.
5) The team just isn’t all that good.
This one is tough to support with the numbers. The team has gone to a bowl four years out of six, has marquee wins, and is flat-out fun to watch. Sure, it will be even better when the defense catches up to the offense, but the games are as exciting as anywhere in college football.
At the end of the day, it does-n’t matter if fans buy tickets on game day or buy season tickets, as long as they come. And the irony is that it has never been easier to purchase a ticket. You can buy online, by phone or in person. The new Access Management will let you buy your ticket online and print it at home. No more lines!
Unusable tickets can be put back in the system, and if sold, 60 percent of the purchase price goes into your account. Add to this the idea that this team, on paper at least, may be the best that June Jones ever had.
While there may be an element of truth in all the reasons for not buying a ticket, what a shame for those who will miss what promises to be a pretty terrific product.
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