Hype Behind New Minnesota Coach P.J. Fleck Yet To Significantly Impact Ticket Sales
New Univ. of Minnesota football coach P.J. Fleck "continues to draw national publicity for a program long overlooked," but so far, his hype has "yet to fill the maroon-and-gold coffers," according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. UM has distributed "fewer than 40,000 tickets" for its Aug. 31 opener against Buffalo. That is "counting 5,000 freebies they annually give freshmen for the first game." Two years after "playing a full season to near-capacity crowds at TCF Bank Stadium, the athletic department is still struggling to refill the 9-year-old facility’s 50,805 seats." Fans are "taking a wait-and-see approach with Fleck." Since UM hired Fleck away from Western Michigan on Jan. 6, its "number of new season tickets sold is 1,430." Minnesota AD Mark Coyle "still sees that for what it is: growth." UM sold "just 660 new season tickets last year." Coyle: "If you look across the country, a lot of programs are struggling to sell new season tickets, and we have a 115 percent increase. So I’m very pleased with that." Christensen noted there were "no sellouts last season, and the Gophers failed to draw more than 45,000 for any game except Iowa." Coyle "scrapped another price increase for this year, which had been scheduled under former AD Norwood Teague." Coyle said that he "didn’t have exact numbers yet, but sales of Gophers T-shirts with Fleck’s 'Row the Boat' mantra have been brisk." Coyle added that it also is "hard to put an exact number on the impact Fleck’s hire has made on fundraising" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/20).