SBD/September 6, 2013/Colleges

Despite Large Crowds, Penn State Attendance Still Suffering From Sandusky Scandal

With Penn State facing "financial woes brought on by the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal and NCAA sanctions that could deepen in the ensuing years, attendance will matter at Beaver Stadium this season," according to Mark Dent of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. The "capacity crowds of the past could be hard to replicate, particularly if last year's numbers and the ticket packages being peddled by the athletic department this season are any indication." PSU last year averaged 96,730 fans, the "fifth-highest total" of any FBS school. As "promising as that number may be, it masks a problem." Whereas the average FBS school "experienced an attendance decline" of 1.2% in '12, PSU's average declined 4.6%. Comparing last year's attendance '07, PSU was down 11.2%. The average FBS program was down 2.9%. Another "telling statistic was its percentage of fullness." With a capacity of 106,572, Beaver Stadium was 90.8% full last year on average. PSU AD David Joyner said that the department "was coming up with ideas to improve fan experience." These measures "include enhanced stadium WiFi, 'new and improved' rentable seat cushions and a Beaver Stadium app that was introduced last season." A new Jumbotron "also will be completed" in '14. The athletic department this summer reported that 90% of season-ticket holders from last year "had committed" to this year. PSU also "has introduced new ticket options, using tactics previously never utilized by the school" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 9/5).

REBEL ALLIANCE: In Las Vegas, Taylor Bern noted UNLV is offering football tickets "through a seat-filling site," which is new territory for a program "desperate to do anything and everything it can to get people in the stadium." Interim AD Tina Kunzer-Murphy said, “This is something they brought to us and we all agreed at the last minute, 'Let’s give it a try.' I don’t think it’s something we’re planning on doing every game.” Part of the NCAA’s requirement to maintain FBS status "is an attendance minimum of 15,000 either paid or actual attendance over a two-year rolling period." Last year, UNLV’s average attendance was 15,208. Games later in the year "tend to bring that down, too, making good attendance early in the year a high priority." Kunzer-Murphy also is "trying to add a more 'collegiate' feel to the games." On Saturday, there will be "food trucks out in the tailgating area and for the kids bounce houses and some other interactive games." UNLV marketing department employees and student government reps "have been walking around campus handing out student tickets, which are included in their student fees." Senior administrators also "will be at the entrances waiting to welcome fans into the game when the doors open" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 9/5).

HOKIE POKIE: In Richmond, Mike Barber reported Virginia Tech’s string of 93 sellouts at Lane Stadium "is in jeopardy heading into Saturday’s home opener against Western Carolina." VT AD Jim Weaver on Wednesday said that he "doesn’t expect to sell out the game." Weaver: "It’s always disappointing when you’re not able to keep something going, such as this. But when you look across the country and read in the literature that the Alabamas have had some trouble, and Florida had problems, it’s something that we’re all dealing with.” VT had "about 3,900 unsold tickets remaining as of lunchtime Wednesday." Part of the low number has to do with FCS-level WCU "returning 3,400 tickets it was unable to sell" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 9/5).

U-TURN: In Ft. Lauderdale, Craig Davis wrote Saturday's Florida-Miami game at Sun Life Stadium "is the hottest regular-season ticket in years." Data from SeatGeek.com shows demand has "driven the average ticket price on the secondary market to $186.89," the highest by far for a UM home game recorded the web site. SeatGeek Communications Dir Will Flaherty said that this price is 29% above the average for the Miami-FSU game in '10 ($144.58). UM as of Wednesday morning "had fewer than 500 season-ticket packages remaining." UM Associate AD/Communications & Marketing Chris Freet "expects season-ticket sales to reach 30,000 when selling ends next week, up from 23,000 last year" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 9/5).
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