SBD/September 6, 2017/Events and Attractions

Belk College Kickoff Organizer Looking At Ways To Draw More Fans After Lower Attendance

Bank of America Stadium drew a crowd of 50,367 for South Carolina-N.C. State
The organizer of last Saturday's Belk College Kickoff between South Carolina and N.C. State said that the group has "already started to take a look at the ticket pricing and other ways to get more fans in the seats" after announced attendance of 50,367, according to Joe Giglio of the Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER. Charlotte Sports Foundation Exec Dir Will Webb, whose organization runs the event, said, "We’re happy with what we had but we wish we had more." Giglio notes there were "a lot of empty seats" at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, including whole sections in the upper deck "unoccupied." Attendance was "in line with last year’s Belk Bowl," the '15 Belk Bowl and the kickoff game between North Carolina and South Carolina in '15. The "least expensive ticket, face value through either school or Panthers box office, for an individual to Saturday’s game was $85." Webb said that a "good portion of the lower level tickets, which cost more than $200, actually sold very well." He added that his group had "studied the cost of tickets for other neutral-site games in Atlanta, Washington, Dallas and Houston and that the prices for the upper-deck tickets in Charlotte were competitive, if not cheaper, than the other sites" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 9/6).

BREAKING IT DOWN: In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg reported of the eight neutral-site opening weekend games played at NFL stadiums, only one -- Louisville-Purdue at Lucas Oil Stadium -- "had lower attendance than the Belk Kickoff." Webb said, "We have to get more of the less-expensive seats sold." Webb noted that both schools "achieved much of what they set out to do, giving alums and students a chance to see their team play in an NFL stadium, making further inroads in the largest metro area in the Carolinas and walking away" with more than $2M each. Future openers "lined up by the foundation include West Virginia-Tennessee next year and two more North Carolina-South Carolina match-ups" in '19 and '23 (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/5). ACC Commissioner John Swofford said neutral-site games such as South Carolina-N.C. State are "important" for the conference. Swofford: "Our schools are playing the strongest non-conference schedules of any of our peers. And in this day and age of the College Football Playoff, that’s a real plus, because at the end of the day, that can certainly matter in terms of your strength of schedule. And it also gives the league and the schools a great deal of attention early in the season and you can’t win those games unless you schedule them and give yourself the opportunity to play in those games" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/2).

BACK TO SCHOOL: In Toledo, David Briggs wrote Saturday's Michigan-Florida AdvoCare Classic at AT&T Stadium "confirmed the need to do away" with neutral-site football games. The atmosphere was "fine," but "why again are we playing these games off campus?" Briggs: "Away from the game’s iconic venues. Away from the students. Away from the university communities. I couldn’t shake the feeling the game would have been about 100 times more electric in Ann Arbor or Gainesville" (Toledo BLADE, 9/4).
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