Maryland Aims To Capitalize On Big Ten Move With Improved Attendance, Fundraising
The Univ. of Maryland "needs to build its fan base, its athletic fundraising and its imprint on the region" ahead of its move to the Big Ten next year, according to Jeff Barker of the Baltimore SUN. The school "hopes to begin closing the gap this fall" between last season's low football attendance and "its vision of sold-out Big Ten home games in the future." UM sees the Big Ten as the "remedy to years of middling attendance figures for games against ACC opponents such as Wake Forest and Boston College." The football program "has not grown big enough to fill the stadium's Tyser Tower," the $50.8M modernization project that "opened amid a recession in 2009 and included an expansion featuring luxury suites with bars and flat-screen TVs." But as of early this month, 48 of the tower's 63 suites "were committed," and the school had "sold 15,046 football season tickets" through June 4. The season-ticket sales represent 1,815 "more than at the same time last year, but down from about 20,000" before the '11 season. The school recently held an Inner Harbor cruise on the Spirit of Baltimore as part of an outreach campaign that "also extended to Washington, Annapolis and Ocean City." The idea was to "generate excitement" for UM athletics, but also to "impress upon fans the necessity of more financial support." The athletic department wants to "increase membership in its main booster organization -- the Terrapin Club -- to more than 10,000." The club had "about 7,000 members in June." UM also has been "emphasizing 'young alumni' events, holding receptions before away football and basketball games." UM Deputy AD Nathan Pine said the school wants to deepen "the culture of giving right out of school" (Baltimore SUN, 6/23).