Attendance at Rupp Arena for the Univ. of Kentucky men's basketball team's first seven games has dropped for "the fourth consecutive year," according to John Clay of the LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER. Average attendance has "gone from 23,868 through the first seven home games" of '09, John Calipari's first season as the UK coach, "to 21,799 this season." Most of the empty seats this year are "upper-level seats reserved for students," and the team has played a "weak home schedule." UK's "three most interesting matchups this season have been neutral-site games -- Michigan State in Chicago; Providence in Brooklyn and Baylor in Dallas." The prevalence of these "made-for-TV, big-ticket affairs has all but turned the home-and-home series into an antique."Also UK and Indiana "canceled their home-and-home series." Additionally, there may be "a creeping one-and-done fatigue" among UK fans "wistful for the good old days when you got to know players over an extended period." Also, the Rupp Arena experience has "turned stale," with the introductions video "the only noticeable in-game change." The venue's lower level "has always lacked enthusiasm, while the upper level remains cramped and uncomfortable with a poor view of the action" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 12/12).
LSU AD Joe Alleva on Friday will ask the school's Board of Supervisors for "permission to increase some Tradition Fund payments for football season ticket holders beginning in 2014 and a flexible pricing plan that would allow different prices for games depending on the opponent," according to Quincy Hodges of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. Alleva will do so "in order to stay competitive" and fill a $2M "budget gap." Alleva told the board at its Oct. 25 meeting that expenditures in the last four years "have increased" by about $20M. Hodges notes the expenditures "include fringe benefits, scholarships, football salaries, travel and payments to the university." LSU Senior Associate AD Mark Ewing on Thursday said that the ticket price increases would raise nearly $2M, "which will fill the department's budget gap due to lost revenues in the Tradition Fund." Hodges reports $59M of the LSU athletics department's overall budget consists of "seat donations and ticket funds," while parking brings in $2.9M. This is the "first proposed increase" since '10. Alleva's proposal calls for a 6% "increase in season-ticket pricing from the previous season." Under the proposal, season-tickets "will be $425 next year, a $25 increase from the previous season." Student season tickets prices "will remain the same at $84 for general admission and $126 for reserved seats" (NOLA.com, 12/12).
UMass students and Massachusetts taxpayers have spent $1M more than projected to "help fund the first two seasons of the UMass Amherst football team's ambitious -- and so far disappointing -- upgrade" to FBS, according to Bob Hohler of the BOSTON GLOBE. The subsidy is "expected to exceed projections by an additional $600,000 next season," reaching $5.1M of the $7.8M football budget. The overrun is considered a reflection of the football team's "struggle to generate enthusiasm for the upgrade, which included moving most of the team's home games to Gillette Stadium." The rising subsidy "triggered a new round of complaints that UMass leaders invested scarce public dollars that could have been better spent." UMass is two years into a five-year agreement with Gillette Stadium, and school administrators "continue to believe the program will thrive over time." UMass officials originally "projected the football team would generate an annual budget surplus" of more than $1M by '18. UMass Associate Dir of Media Relations John Sinnett said, "This is a long-term project." Hohler notes ticket sales at Gillette "improved from an average of 10,901 in 2012 to 15,830 in 2013, the highest ever for a UMass football team." Still, attendance "remained significantly lower than school officials had projected." UMass is scheduled to open the '14 season at Gillette against Boston College, which school officials "hope builds interest in the program." UMass also will "resume playing in Amherst" for the first time since '11. The school is "scheduled to play three games in refurbished McGuirk Stadium," and Penn State is "paying UMass $850,000 to play there" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/13).