Over 333 games, Husker football season tickets have become family heirlooms. From humble beginnings when Bob Devaney took his first team on the field against Missouri in 1962 to when Bo Pelini flung his hat, nearly hitting a ref on Black Friday 2013.
“Sold out” and full to capacity. Never in doubt, right?
Well, expanded seating and a team that hasn’t quite gotten over the hump has brought a surprising lack of demand for those pieces of paper. So surprising that there’s now a large push from the athletic department to get new season ticket holders to join the football ticket waiting list.
Would it shock you if I told you that during the 2013-2014 bowl season, the Nebraska athletic department sold the least amount of tickets from their allotment compared to any other Big 10 school?
According to a document submitted to the NCAA and obtained by The Gazette (Iowa City) through an open-records request, Nebraska’s athletics department sold just 1,748 Gator Bowl tickets at a loss of nearly $800,000.
Nebraska was allotted 12,678 tickets. That means only 13 percent were sold and begs the question of why such a lack of demand?
We can speculate all we want, but the fact of the matter is that interest is apparently dwindling if not getting close to dead.
2014 brought new initiatives from the AD, specifically for increasing the ease of use of obtaining season tickets (preferably in bulk).The ‘Seat-Yourself’ feature allows fans to view a digital map of the stadium on the Husker Ticket Office website.
It selects open seating allowing for fans to actually see where they will sit if they should make a purchase.
If you’ve driven with the radio turned to any sports station lately, it’s very likely that you’ve heard advertisements encouraging you to go to join the Husker football season tickets waiting list. The same can be said if you’ve made it to almost any Nebraska sporting event this spring.
This marketing push has noticeably increased over the last few seasons, but is it actually making a difference? The telltale sign will be this fall.
Through most of the 2013 home schedule, it was very likely that you could look into the upper parts of the end zone seating and see pockets of empty seats. The student section, a topic in and of itself, was often home to empty rows towards the top.
However, ‘tickets sold’ and ‘butts in the seats’ are two different things. The concern for the decision makers in North Stadium comes when the average Nebraska fan and donors who actually purchase seats decide not to and invest that money elsewhere.
Will those pockets of empty seats trickle down? Maybe, maybe not. Do I have any real doubts that 2014 will see the end of the vaunted sellout streak? No, I don’t.
That said, this should be an eye opener for Shawn Eichorst and his staff along with all fans to not take the next sold out season for granted. That can’t be emphasized enough if the on the field product does not live up to the lofty (and possibly unreasonable) expectations of the ‘Greatest Fans in College Football’.
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Tags: Nebraska Cornhuskers