UF aggressive in marketing unsold football tickets
Published: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 5:23 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 5:23 p.m.
The University of Florida athletic association has football season tickets available and has started reminding fans in an effort to boost sales.
TO ORDER GATOR FOOTBALL TICKETS
Season tickets are available at www.gatorzone.com/tickets. Prices start at a required $175 per seat booster contribution, plus the $280 cost of the actual tickets. Single-game tickets are also available for all but the Louisiana State and South Carolina games.
A recent marketing campaign has targeted groups from Shands employees to UF Performing Arts patrons, an effort that officials say is meant to fight the misconception that there is a season ticket waiting list. A television advertisement with the tagline "Live Life in the Swamp" doesn't specifically mention tickets, but highlights the virtues of the live game-day experience.
About 1,200 season tickets have been sold in recent weeks, according to the University Athletic Association, which reports still being about 250 season tickets behind the number sold at this time last year. Officials there say they're working against the trend of fans staying home in a tough economy to watch high-definition broadcasts, something happening in all of sports.
"That's a challenge for everybody," said Jeremy Foley, UF athletics director. "We worry about it, we worry about it to the extent that we're not going to sit here and say, ‘Hey, that's never going to happen to Florida.' That's why you've got to market, that's why you've got to be aggressive, that's why you have to provide a quality fan experience."
Foley made the comments following a meeting Tuesday in which the athletic association board passed a budget of about $97.6 million for the next fiscal year, a less than 1 percent increase from this year. It includes a previously announced contribution of about $6 million to UF's academic operation, $500,000 of which is coming from the association's reserves.
This marks the third straight year that $6 million has been contributed to UF and brings the total contribution to $67 million since 1990, according to the athletic association.
The budget projects a $1.2 million decline in revenue from a drop in luxury seat sales, but $1.3 million being gained through an increase in ticket prices. The board approved a $3 per ticket increase in December 2011. A planned increase in the booster contribution required to obtain season tickets was delayed around the same time.
UF's 137-game home sellout streak was snapped last season as three home games weren't sellouts. Association officials dismissed the connection to the team's struggles on the field, instead attributing it to opposing teams returning a larger than usual number of unsold tickets. Still, the athletic association has stepped up efforts to sell tickets in advance of the fall.
The association is using a targeted approach this year rather than a traditional campaign, said Mike Hill, senior associate athletics director for external affairs. It has used social media and worked with UF Performing Arts, Shands and other groups to send out messages that there is no waiting list for tickets, he said. Appeals also have been sent to high-income zip codes.
"It's really just an awareness campaign," Hill said.
The "Live Life in the Swamp" television advertisement is meant to remind fans that the game-day experience is special, he said. The ad shows images of the Gator Walk and tailgating on Saturdays as well as the actual games. It doesn't mention tickets, but a corresponding webpage on Gatorzone.com provides ticket information for new customers.
Other efforts include letting fans who declined to renew season tickets know that they can get lower-cost seats and providing the exact location of these seats — information that hadn't been given in the past. Foley said there also are ongoing efforts to improve the fan experience, including the current renovations to the west concourse of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
The sales of about 1,200 tickets in recent weeks shows the strength of the fan base and effectiveness of the marketing campaign, Hill said.
"I think people didn't realize there were some (tickets) available. I think there were some people that wanted to get tickets for a long, long time," he said. "It's a phenomenal amount of season tickets to sell in such a short period of time."
Contact staff reporter Nathan Crabbe at 338-3176 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more stories on the University of Florida, visit www.thecampussun.com.
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