SBD/March 29, 2013/Colleges

FGCU Trying To Build Off NCAA Run With Season-Ticket Deposits, Courtside Seats

FGCU has seen close to $150,000 in merchandise sales in March alone
Florida Gulf Coast Univ. has started selling season tickets for the '13-14 men's basketball season, but the school "recently offered a $50 deposit option, which would allow someone to get on the list should they not want to make the full commitment now," according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com. The idea is to get "more people thinking about next season now, especially as the volume of older fans heading north for the spring and summer increases." FGCU AD Ken Kavanagh said that the athletic department "received 23 deposits" just at Monday's pep rally for Friday night's Sweet 16 game against Florida. Kavanagh: "We'll allow people who had seats last year to come back in their same seats until June 30, but after that, there will be a line to get in." Rovell reported despite FGCU selling out about half of the 4,500-seat Alico Arena this season, the school "after winning the Atlantic Sun tournament ... started thinking about tickets for next year." New inventory includes 30 courtside seats, with the school "asking for a minimum $5,000 donation for each of the 10 seats closest to center court." FGCU also "wasted no time trying to cash locally on the national attention" of its NCAA Tournament wins. The school this week sent an e-mail to fans "asking them to donate $16, $160, or $1,600 to [the] athletic department in recognition of the team's run." Kavanagh: "We still need a lot more resources. We have to try to make up for the fact that our oldest alum is 37 years old." Rovell noted FGCU eventually will see "some nice return from merchandise royalties." The school said that through Tuesday it had "sold $148,904 worth of Eagles gear in March compared to a little more than $20,107 during the same period of time last year" (ESPN.com, 3/28).

GROWTH SPURT: FGCU play-by-pay announcer Dave Moulton said the school's off-the-court story “may be more remarkable than the on-the-court story.” Moulton said the university “was built with the intent" of being a Division II school. He noted the success of FGCU’s other athletic programs, including former FGCU P Chris Sale being taken in the first round of the '10 MLB Draft, and said the “only thing that was not successful so far was the men’s basketball program." Moulton: "It’s already pretty close to a mid-major athletic department even though it’s a very small conference with a ridiculously low budget.” The school has “not been able to really tap into any of the money in the area” of Ft. Myers. The "great unanswered question" is whether FGCU can “tap into the money that is within an half-an-hour of it.” Moulton: “All that money was made somewhere else and these folks have come down here and retired. Can they get them emotionally invested in this little school to turn it into the great next mid-major?” (“The DA Show,” CBS Sports Radio, 3/28).

MERCH SALES STILL STRONG: In Florida, Tracy Miguel reports FGCU has been the "top-selling college and most-searched school on Fanatics.com" since the start of the NCAA tourney. Florida unsurprisingly has been the "top state for sales" of FGCU gear. Meanwhile, Sarah Smith, who manages the Lids location at the Coastland Center mall in Naples, Fla., said that FGCU caps "have been selling well" since the team made the Sweet 16. The store, which "didn't carry many FGCU hats because there wasn't a demand for university merchandise until recently," has sold about 100 caps this week (NAPLES DAILY NEWS, 3/29).
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