SBD/March 5, 2013/Colleges

St. Louis Univ. Sees Surging Interest In Hoops Team As It Climbs The Rankings

Twenty-four of SLU's 30 games are on on television this year
The St. Louis Univ. men's basketball team's average attendance for home conference games "is up by almost 1,000 over last season, and ticket revenue is up overall," according to Tom Timmermann of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. SLU sits atop the Atlantic 10 Conference standings with a 23-5 record and is ranked in the top 16 in both the AP and USA Today Coaches' polls, and interest in the team "has exploded since late January." The team's home finale against La Salle this Saturday is "almost sold out," making it the team's "fifth crowd of more than 10,000" at the 10,600-seat Chaifetz Arena. Fans also are taking to the road to see the team, as "about 500" supporters traveled to the Feb. 22 game at Butler. SLU's alumni office figures that was the "most ever at a road game." The crowds "are big in cyberspace too," as the Butler game generated "so much traffic on the independent Billikens.com fan page that its server crashed." SLU made last season's NCAA tournament, but the berth "didn't lead to much of a change in the team's season-ticket base." However, AD Chris May "expects that number will go up next season, helped by the potential for another strong SLU team." May said, "The end product has implications across the board, whether it's ticket sales, fund-raising, recruiting or recruiting other student-athletes." Another place where May is "looking for gains is on TV, where SLU had 24 of 30 regular season games broadcast by someone this season." Meanwhile, the school is being mentioned as a candidate to join the new Big East, and Timmermann wrote it is "obvious that, if asked, SLU will say yes" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/4).

TECH SUPPORT: In Atlanta, Ken Sugiura reported the Georgia Tech men's basketball team sold about 4,400 season tickets for the inaugural season at McCamish Pavilion, "meeting the goal set prior to the start of the season." The school averaged 7,288 per game at the 8,600-seat arena and has earned $4.13M "in total revenue, including ticket sales and contributions to the TECH Fund." That marks a 19.6% increase in attendance from '10-11, the last season the team played at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, and a 13.2% total revenue increase. Attendance is 47.9% better than last year, when GT split time between Philips Arena and Gwinnett Center, "with a 100.7 percent improvement in total revenues." GT Associate AD/Sales & Fan Experience Rick Thorpe said, "The attendance has done as well as we could have expected. The support has been fantastic." Sugiura noted fans were "largely enthusiastic" about McCamish Pavilion, though some "did have issue with Tech's longstanding challenges with traffic and parking and also the limited options at concession stands" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 3/3).
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