Nadine Babu

Nadine Babu fell in love with Gopher Basketball and The Barn when she enrolled at the University of Minnesota in 1996. Fifteen years later, the passion lives on. You can find her tailgating and sporting her Maroon & Gold at any Gopher football or basketball event. Nadine is the CEO and Social Media Strategist at Babu Social Networks and completed her undergraduate degree and MBA at the Carlson School of Management. She manages and writes for GopherHole.com, which has been the leading online home for passionate Gopher fans since 1996. Her dedication to college basketball has brought her to eight Final Fours, dating to the first one in Minneapolis in 2001.

Gophers Need to Dig out of the Slumping Ticket Sales Hole

Posted by: Nadine Babu Updated: November 2, 2012 - 5:48 PM

I had initially wanted to write a blog on Gopher basketball season ticket sales, however, after seeing the turnout for the Gopher football game against Purdue last weekend, I figured I needed to address the lagging sales for both programs.  Some of you may read my previous article on the lack of student tickets sold (www.startribune.com/local/yourvoices/166589686.html), and ideas on how to rectify that situation.  Students are incredibly important to a college game, and they are the ones that create the atmosphere, and give you a home field/court advantage.  However, it's no secret that public season ticket holders are the ones that pay the bills, making it imperative to sell those tickets.

For those of you who say winning will cure everything, you are right – it will.  Jerry Kill said that at his press conference on Tuesday, and he is correct. However, we've had some down years in both football and basketball, and the truth is, you can't always rely on winning because you won't always win (unless your name is Tom Izzo and this is Michigan State basketball).  So you need to implement other ideas to sustain and grow your fan base.

In football, we're actually having a decent year, we're 5-3, one game away from being bowl game eligible, and just got our first Big 10 win against Purdue on Saturday.  After the past few years, this is a pleasant change.  However, if you were at the Purdue game on Saturday, you would have noticed that the glaringly low attendance.  TCF Bank sold the fewest tickets in its short history, selling only 41,062.  For those of you who are more visual, the stadium looked like this at kickoff:

 

 

And this during the last few minutes of the 4th quarter: 

 

 

As you can see in the graph below, there has also been a decline in the number of basketball season tickets sold over the past several years. The public season tickets are in gold, student season tickets are in maroon, and their coordinating number totals are also color coded. Despite the excitement surrounding Tubby Smith’s initial years at Minnesota, the graph shows the grim reality of ticket sales during his tenure.  While I fully expect more student season tickets to be sold (as students are lot more last minute), I don't see the public ticket numbers going up drastically, meaning the ticket office will have to rely on specials and various promotions to fill Williams Arena this coming season.

 

 

2007: 9343 Public & 1295 Student

2008: 8926 Public & 2105 Student

2009: 9,147 Public & 2,011 Student

2010: 8,931 Public & 1,456 Student

2011: 8,382 Public & 1,285 Student

2012: 7,411 Public & 810 Student (as of 10/29/12), anticipating more will be sold for the year)

So, what incentive to be a season ticket holder?  Obviously supporting your school, getting the seats you want, and sitting by the same group each game.  However, if you don't care about those things and just want to attend the game, you would take advantage of specials the U of MN is putting out there.  I do not have priority seating for football, I do order a chair back, and my season tickets were a total of $340.00 ($275 for the ticket, $45 for seat cushion, $20 for handling), instead of $50 had I purchased all the games individually through the specials the U offered:

New Hampshire - Groupon for $10

Western Michigan - All alums, and anyone with the link 2 free tickets

Syracuse - $10 special

Northwestern (Homecoming) - $20 tickets to start, went down to $10

Purdue - $10 tickets

Michigan - $10 special for tickets posted on the Gopher Sports Facebook

The ticket office also offered a number of specials last year for basketball as well.  Many disagree with me, and like the short term solution of offering a discounted or free ticket, but I would rather think long term and focus marketing efforts on season ticket holders. A long term solution would result in more overall revenue, and less work for the ticket and marketing offices as they struggle to fill the stadium and arena week to week.  

Public basketball ticket sales have dropped 20.68% and student season ticket sales are down 37.45% since 2007.  This past year was the most significant drop partially due to the fact that the Gophers finished 9th in the Big 10 conference, and decided to go ahead with Gopher Points and reseated Williams Arena resulting in new seat fees for many season ticketholders.  Rolling out Gopher Points this past summer was poorly timed, and should have been postponed until there was some demand for basketball tickets, and the team was doing well. 

When you even take a look at the first exhibition game against Minnesota State - Mankato, the attendance was 8,907 Last year's lowest attended exhibition game was against Augustana (S.D.) had an announced attendance of 10,644.  That's over a 1700 person difference from one year to the next. That’s 1700 fewer tickets sold, but also 1700 fewer people buying concessions, merchandise, game programs, parking spots, as well as 1700 fewer people adding to the game day atmosphere in Williams Arena.

Looking at the raw numbers of the ticket sales over the last few years, it’s clear there is a problem.  The more difficult part is coming up with some solutions. Here are a few of mine; some are from posters on GopherHole.com, others are from friends, and many are my own. 

Appreciate your current season ticket holders.  It's much easier to retain a customer, than find a new one (that’s an entirely different blog).  Unfortunately, the U is not able to keep loyal fans happy.  How are some ways you can do this:

  •  Give a discount to season ticket holders.  Right now, season ticket holders are paying a lot more than non-season ticket holders.  When you're purchasing 18 - 20 games a year, you should get a better value than someone that's going to 3 games.  That means either lowering the price of season tickets, or raising the price of single game tickets.  That can be determined with supply and demand.  Right now, there is little demand, so giving people a discount makes more sense.  It's better to get $28 for each game, and have a seat sold all season, than $35 for a few Big 10 games. 
  •  If you cannot give discounts to season ticket holders, offer them other coupons or discounts.  Give out 2 free parking passes per year, $5 coupons for the concessions, a free club room pass a year, there are a lot of things you can do that won't cost the U much, but will make people feel more appreciated.
  • Have special season ticket holder open practices, that have 30 minutes of Q &A with the players and Tubby either before or after.  Make this an exclusive event that only season ticket holders can attend.
  • Give out passes to the club room a few times a year for season ticket holders.  Let them enjoy a VIP experience.  This costs the U nothing, as everything in there is a cash/food bar.  
  • Send each season ticket holder a media guide with their tickets, or a panoramic poster of The Barn, similar to what they U did with TCF Bank after the inaugural game.  A gold t-shirt would be outstanding too, or distribute one on each season ticket holder's seat during a "gold out."
  • Before you even give out coupons for a game, or run specials, give season ticket holders the 1st chance to buy up those tickets at a discounted price.
  • Have a reception for season ticket holders before a few games at McNamara.  You can have a cash bar, and a few hors d'oeuvres – not a huge cost, but a nice touch. 
  • Let season ticket holder trade their tickets in.  Theaters do this, as do some of the Twins and Timberwolves season ticket holders.  If you can't make it to one game, be able to trade in a pair of tickets for another game to bring 2 guests (that could turn into future season ticket holders), as long as there is availability for the other game (you can also make a handful games exempt from this, like a Wisconsin game). 
  • Begin some kind of loyalty program. After the first year, you get a t-shirt, after five years, a sweatshirt, after 10 years, a piece of the Williams Arena floor, etc.  Also, award them with Gopher Points for each milestone.  Gopher points should also reward student season ticket holders.  If a student has gone to games for four years, and been a die-hard fan, they should get more points than a student that never went to a game. 
  • For those season ticket holders that have already left, invite them back for a reception.  Have people come to Williams Arena after work, and have food and drinks for them.  Mark each seat in The Barn that's available, so people can see what great seats there are still left.  Have Tubby and the players there.  If you get just a few people to come back to the Gophers, you make up for all your food and drink costs.  I know I dropped my season tickets last year, and the only marketing outreach I've received this year was one phone call from the ticket office.  After spending over $600 a season on tickets for quite a few years, you'd think they'd want me (or anyone) back as a customer. 
  • As the season goes on, pro-rate the season tickets.  If we're halfway through the season, let people buy just 1/2 of the season, instead of single game tickets. That encourages new season ticket holders all season long, especially if the team gets hot (which we're looking to do this year).
  • For these poorly attended non-conference games, give guest passes out to your season ticket holders.  It can be a last minute thing, but a day or two before, if it looks like there will be 5000 empty seats, send out an email to let people bring friends to the game.  If you aren’t going to sell that seat, you may as well at least have a butt in it, and possible future customer. 

These are some simple ideas.  Is giving someone a media guide going to get them to renew their season tickets?  No.  But if you can a number of small, and inexpensive thing to make people feel appreciated as season ticket holders, and receive some benefits, they will be a lot less likely to drop them. Bottom line is, stop focusing on giving away or running inexpensive specials to sell one or two games, that's a short term fix.  Focus on your season ticket holder, and the thousands you've lost over the past few years is a great place to start. 

 

Nadine Babu

Twitter:  @NadineBabu www.twitter.com/nadinebabu

Nadine Babu is the CEO and Social Media Strategist at Babu Social Networks and completed her undergraduate degree and MBA at the Carlson School of Management. She manages and writes for GopherHole.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Minnesota 35 FINAL
Miami 37
Baltimore 13 FINAL
Houston 25
Detroit 20 FINAL
Chicago 14
Cleveland 13 FINAL
Carolina 17
Atlanta 30 FINAL
New Orleans 14
Green Bay 20 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City 12 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
New England 17 FINAL
NY Jets 16
NY Giants 37 FINAL
St. Louis 27
Buffalo 24 FINAL
Oakland 26
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Dallas 42
Seattle 35 FINAL
Arizona 6
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 108 FINAL
Toronto 118
Memphis 91 FINAL
Cleveland 105
Boston 84 FINAL
Miami 100
Detroit 105 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
LA Lakers 101 FINAL
Sacramento 108
Philadelphia 96 FINAL
Orlando 88
Phoenix 104 FINAL
Washington 92
Indiana 100 FINAL
Minnesota 96
New Orleans 101 FINAL
Oklahoma City 99
Colorado 2 FINAL(SO)
Detroit 1
Dallas 6 FINAL(SO)
Edmonton 5
Buffalo 3 FINAL(OT)
Boston 4
Carolina 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 1
Toronto 0 FINAL
Chicago 4
Philadelphia 4 FINAL(OT)
Winnipeg 3
Harvard 27 FINAL
Virginia 76
Maine 69 FINAL
Army 72
Ferris State 82 FINAL
Bowling Green 68
San Francisco 65 FINAL
Cleveland State 69
Oregon State 52 FINAL
Quinnipiac 60
Coastal Carolina 72 FINAL
Central Arkansas 55
Holy Cross 48 FINAL
Canisius 67
Southern Miss 55 FINAL
Georgia State 68
Western Carolina 66 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 62
Creighton 58 FINAL
North Texas 62
Maryland 73 FINAL
Oklahoma State 64
Cornell 61 FINAL
Radford 74
Vermont 55 FINAL
Saint Louis 58
Loyola-Maryland 52 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Reinhardt 72 FINAL
Winthrop 100
Ark-Little Rock 46 FINAL
Green Bay 66
TX-Pan American 72 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 77
Alabama State 63 FINAL
Evansville 81
FIU 69 FINAL
Hartford 82
Goshen 55 FINAL
Valparaiso 82
Bryant 48 FINAL
Denver 46
Austin Peay 63 FINAL
Lipscomb 69
Tennessee St 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 65
South Dakota 67 FINAL
Montana 62
ULM 50 FINAL
Samford 64
Coker 52 FINAL
South Carolina 78
USC 75 FINAL
Boston College 71
Northern Ariz 66 FINAL
Hampton 75
SD Christian 61 FINAL
San Diego 71
UC Irvine 55 FINAL
Bradley 47
Troy 65 FINAL
Nicholls 64
Seton Hall 47 FINAL
Georgia 65
Appalachian St 59 FINAL
Alabama 60
North Dakota St 52 FINAL
Kent State 53
San Jose St 53 FINAL
Washington St 82
Alcorn State 45 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 78
Sacramento St 47 FINAL
Seattle 66
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 55 FINAL
Denver 63
St Marys-CA 52 FINAL
George Washington 70
TX-San Antonio 49 FINAL
Nicholls 57
Portland State 71 FINAL
Columbia 66
Tenn Tech 62 FINAL
Morgan State 56
SMU 43 FINAL
Auburn 56
Quinnipiac 70 FINAL
Hartford 58
Hofstra 75 FINAL
Boston College 61
Eastern Washington 55 FINAL
Georgia Southern 42
Liberty 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 84
Fairleigh Dickinson 74 FINAL
Brown 79
Buffalo 73 FINAL
Long Island 79
Bucknell 74 FINAL
Mount St Marys 49
Stony Brook 70 FINAL
Wagner 76
FIU 83 FINAL
Wofford 75
Duquesne 56 FINAL
Providence 67
Maine 54 FINAL
William & Mary 51
Alabama State 43 FINAL
Samford 56
TX-Pan American 43 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 64
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
Marist 82
Saint Josephs 50 FINAL
(5) Notre Dame 64
Radford 60 FINAL
Virginia Tech 73
(3) Texas 67 FINAL
(4) Texas A&M 65
Rhode Island 60 FINAL
Bryant 56
South Florida 90 FINAL
Penn State 87
Sam Houston St 55 FINAL
TCU 79
Evansville 50 FINAL
IUPUI 62
(14) Maryland 110 FINAL
Coppin State 51
Mercer 59 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 72
NC A&T 43 FINAL
Chattanooga 58
Princeton 84 FINAL
Monmouth 53
Eastern Illinois 69 FINAL
Lehigh 72
Rider 67 FINAL
Binghamton 72
SC State 57 FINAL
Clemson 66
Fairfield 63 FINAL
Iowa State 76
Richmond 70 FINAL
Eastern Kentucky 56
Cleveland State 80 FINAL
Morehead St 72
Kent State 62 FINAL
Colgate 61
South Alabama 43 FINAL
UAB 73
Saint Peters 35 FINAL
Navy 71
Youngstown St 52 FINAL
Pittsburgh 78
NJIT 50 FINAL
Lafayette 66
Davidson 51 FINAL
Charlotte 86
Indiana State 73 FINAL
St Johns 67
Southern U 49 FINAL
Florida 78
Wright State 46 FINAL
Purdue 70
(19) Oklahoma St 66 FINAL
USC 62
Houston 54 FINAL
Texas Tech 60
Ark-Little Rock 66 FINAL
Tulsa 59
Dayton 71 FINAL
Vanderbilt 67
Northern Ariz 37 FINAL
New Mexico 56
UNC-Asheville 60 FINAL
USC Upstate 67
North Dakota 81 FINAL
South Dakota 86
Western Ill 57 FINAL
Marquette 65
Elon 67 FINAL
(6) North Carolina 85
Ball State 59 FINAL
Western Ky 84
(8) Kentucky 68 FINAL
(13) Duke 89
New Orleans 58 FINAL
Alabama 87
Chicago State 47 FINAL
Milwaukee 69
Bowling Green 61 FINAL
Bradley 47
Ill-Springfield 56 FINAL
SE Missouri St 73
Northern Ill 42 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
(23) Iowa 100 FINAL
Drake 98
Central Michigan 64 FINAL
Minnesota 67
Western Carolina 45 FINAL
North Florida 62
Wyoming 71 FINAL
Colorado 76
Portland 58 FINAL
Boise State 94
Cal Poly 63 FINAL
Colorado State 65
No Dakota State 54 FINAL
Grand Canyon 69
Albany 71 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 49
Oklahoma 64 FINAL
Arkansas 71
Idaho State 63 FINAL
Seattle 55
(18) Michigan State 89 FINAL
(19) Syracuse 76
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Arizona State 88
TX-Arlington 46 FINAL
North Texas 38
Fresno State 68 FINAL
Oregon 59
St Francis-PA 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 72
UNLV 71 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 74
UCLA 50 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 86
(10) Louisville 70 FINAL
(24) California 57
Howard 53 FINAL
Virginia 74
Miami-Ohio 42 FINAL
(21) Miss State 68
Illinois-Chicago 55 FINAL
Old Dominion 61
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

<
Gophers Football Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pmX34-24
Jan 1 - vs. Missouri noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How much do you like the Gophers going to the Citrus Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT