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Gopher Rodney Williams Jr. Went for a shot in the first half of a basketball game against the Toledo Rockets at Williams Arena at the University of Minnesota on Nov. 12, 2012.

Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

Gophers’ Golden Ticket: Win and you keep getting in

  • November 26, 2012 - 10:37 AM

Are you feeling lucky? Or, to put it another way, how much confidence do you have in the Gophers men's basketball and hockey teams?

Behind that over-arching premise is an interesting ticket promotion unleashed by the U of M athletics department on "Black Friday" and extending through midnight on "Cyber Monday" on its mygophersports.com website.

It's called The Golden Ticket. For $75, a fan (or gift-giver) can purchase a pass to all nine Gophers men's basketball Big Ten home games or a different pass to all 10 men's hockey games after Jan. 1.

What's the catch? If a pass-holder goes to a game in which Minnesota loses, the pass is deactivated and he or she can't go to any more games. If they win?

Game on.

"In today's day and age, you're trying to be creative in product offerings," said Brent Holck, director of ticketing for Gophers athletics since 2008. "We're trying to work harder at it at the U of M -- not just saying, 'Here's a ticket; hope you buy it.' It's a chance for us to maybe bring in a new group of people. How do we engage people? That's not always done with a traditional ticket."

It's a bit of a strategic gamble, too. The men's basketball team, for instance, plays Michigan State in its Big Ten home opener on Dec. 31. That's an attractive game, but it's also a tougher game to win than, say, Nebraska on Jan. 29. Does a fan put faith in the team and risk a loss right away -- which would diminish the value of the Golden Ticket -- or hold out for more winnable but less attractive games?

"There's a fun aspect with it," Holck said.

The men's basketball seats are in the upper level behind the baskets, and sell for $30 to $50 per game, if sold individually. The men's hockey tickets are standing room only and have similar per-game prices.

As of Sunday, about 30 Golden Tickets for men's basketball had been sold. Only a handful of hockey passes were sold, Holck said, but marketing efforts will ramp up Monday.

Holck said the Golden Ticket idea has been kicked around his office for more than a year. With tickets available now and the technology available through partner AudienceView, the timing was right to move forward.

It also helps that the men's basketball and hockey teams are primed for competitive seasons.

The department will track which games pass-holders go to, and the concept could be expanded to other sports next year.

"Personally I'm proud of what we're doing," Holck said. "[Athletic director] Norwood Teague pushes us to push the envelope and to be on the cutting edge. It's fun for us as a department to do these kinds of things."

MICHAEL RAND

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