We all know selling expensive tickets to sports events is more difficult than ever. Prices are going up and the economy still stinks. Plus, advancements in technology make watching games on TV better than any seat in the house.
When TV technology can create the tailgating experience then there really will be a problem. I bring this up because no pro franchise or school program is immune to the problem.
A recent column in the Orlando Sentinel brought this to my attention – again. The column was about how some long time Gator football season ticket holders were not renewing their tickets. The passionate and large Gator fan base seems too big to fail, but there have been more and more empty seats at Florida Field in recent seasons. Florida support for this year’s Sugar Bowl was miserable. Sure, part of it is the fans are spoiled – a national title contender or else! And, for the record, this year’s season ticket renewals are slightly ahead of last year, according to a school spokesman.
Still, some fans are disgruntled because while the economy stays bad the booster fees continue to skyrocket, most at least doubling since 2007. At Florida, for example, the least expensive booster fee in ’07 was $125. It’s now $250. What was $400 in ’07 is now $1,000. Touchdown Terrace fees have jumped from $1,200 to $2,500. Corporate support gets more love than long-time die-hard fans. Meanwhile, the home schedule has more “dogs” than ever.
There are other issues as well with most big-time programs and pro franchises. The teams seem more detached from the fans than ever with closed practices and less accessibility to the players and coaches. Owners/general managers/coaches at all levels want more and more control of everything, and that often means distancing themselves more and more from their fans and local media.
The problem is a serious one and it isn’t going away. If it can impact Florida, it can impact any school.
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