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January 25, 2019 at 4:54 pm #41512
In the recent article about attendance and shrinking the number of seats.
If you live within 100 miles what would it take to get you in the stadium vs watching from home. Excluded in this survey are those that money is not an issue in their attending the games.
1 Ticket price
3 Assuming the tickets are in your range of affordability how far would you drive to attend the games
January 26, 2019 at 1:13 pm #41532
Glad you’re doing this 65, once people see it and respond it will answer some key questions.
January 26, 2019 at 10:57 pm #41534
Gator Nation is big and getting bigger. There are enough alumni to fill most of the empty seats in the Swamp IF they’re made available early enough to plan a trip to Hogtown around them.
There’s the matter of driving home after a potential night game (which could be any game) to deal with, or finding a decent hotel room nearby when few (if any) are available at the last minute. Keep in mind that TV rights today dictate game times and CBS and ESPN like to wait until game week to decide what time Gator games will be televised.
That said, the real problems with empty seats at games nowadays are in the student and visitor sections, which are on full display on TV.
With student seats, the first problem is NOT price, but rather the convenience of 60” high def TV in an air conditioned room near beer, food and restroom vs. all the inconveniences of “being there.” Students today buy their season tickets just for the privilege of “choosing” which games they’ll attend in person. For the less meaningful games vs. directional schools or Vandy, they choose to stay home and watch them on TV.
That brings us to the second problem: students have no way of selling individual game tickets to alumni, who would attend in their place IF only they could buy those tickets cheap (< $50) and early enough to make travel plans. The socialists running the UA today consider it “unfair” for students to profit from selling their subsidized tickets to alumni on the open market. I guess they believe empty student seats on TV are preferable.
So, the only viable solution is to reduce the number of available student seats, making the remainder more comfortable for alumni and sell more student tickets than available seats in the student section, making student seats available as a block on a first-come-first-served basis. Any late arriving student that misses out on an empty seat can be refunded the face value of their unused game ticket. That will satisfy the socialists in the UA, create high demand for available seats and fill them all before game time.
Visitor seats suffer from a similar problem as student seats, although in their case the solution is simpler. Just limit availability of those seats to visiting schools until 4 weeks before the game. Any tickets not sold by then must be returned to UF and made available as general admission seats.
Fewer, more comfortable seats for alumni combined with overselling the student section and making unsold visitor seats available early to alumni will insure far fewer empty seats.
January 27, 2019 at 7:10 am #41535
Stl, good points in the student seats and something I hadn’t thought of. While discounted the tickets are already paid for and as a business model the money is in the bank. I get it letting a student profit on these takes money away from the UA. For lesser games the money wouldn’t be that much. For the big games some enterprising youth could make money. But that happens with all tickets. Since student tickets can be tired to their id and I’d this is really that big a deal they can track scanned id v tickets and not sell to that student the following year.
Visitor tickets I get it too.
One other thing I was thinking while looking how cheap TVs are now and how good HD coverage it’s of games now is true home experience is much better than the days where the camera was somewhere in the top of the stadium and the players looked like ants in the screen. And the climate control.
Thank you all good points.
January 27, 2019 at 7:23 am #41536
StL, that was the first treatise I have ever heard tying UA to socialism, marxism, or their contemporary imposter, progressivism…..but while I thank you I have to say that if those cultural icons have infected UF that deeply too, then it is much later than we think.
That said, I live in Texas and probably represent the feelings of most “distant Gators”, maybe even yourself. It’s a long way, but I would commit without hesitation or reservation to making at least one home game a year if the university would work with me a little.
January 27, 2019 at 9:35 am #41537
I’ve been living in St. Louis since 1980. My Gator buddies and I have been attending at least one game at the Swamp every season since 1993. We’ve known a Gainesville “ticket broker” ever since then. He dealt with the students and supplied us our tickets until StubHub made things more convenient for us. For obvious reasons, the “ticket broker” doesn’t accept credit card payment, like StubHub does. 😉
During the 90s and early part of the 2000s, we bought tickets in the student section because they were far more economical ($50-$75/game.) We put up with afternoon sun in our faces and having to stand all game long just to save $$$. Back then, ALL games were sellouts and ALL seats in the Swamp had butts in them, even if many student seats were occupied by alumni butts. 😉
Around 2007, the UA, in the interest of “fairness”, took the option of selling individual game tickets away from students by instituting the current fascist student ID check policy for student tickets. ‘08 and ‘09 were marquee seasons, so the sellouts and full Swamp attendance continued to be the norm, due mainly to the excitement surrounding Tim Tebow and the Gator program back then.
With the advent of cheap HD TVs, the birth of the SEC Network and the decline of Gator football, things began to change. ALL Gator games, even the one ones vs. directional schools, began to be regularly televised, even in Gainesville. Both alumni and students holding season tickets were given the real choice of watching games in comfort at home or the local sports bar vs. being able to experience the “thrill of being there”. The result in the form of empty seats at less “thrilling” games is now evident, even on TV. 🙁
Gator football is again on the upswing and THAT will improve attendance dramatically. However, even Alabama and Clemson suffer from the malady of empty student seats at less meaningful games. And since the fascists at the UA will NEVER admit their mistake and return to the free market days of not checking for student IDs on student tickets, something imaginative must be done to fill ALL those empty student seats at ALL games.
The only viable solution I see is even more fascism. Establish a smaller student section with physical boundaries, oversell that section by 10 or 20% and then accept student tickets at just one gate on game day, on a first-come-first-served basis, until the count of students admitted to the game equals the number of seats in the student section. After that, valid students holding valid student tickets, who are turned away can be refunded the face value of their tickets. That will establish competition for empty seats in the student section and maximize attendance at ALL games.
That solution won’t work for alumni or visitors, but those seats are so much more expensive that their price acts as a deterrent against rampant empty seats. For those ticket holders, only adding to the comfort and convenience of their experience will improve attendance, which can be done by adding chair-backs, or widening bench seats where adding chair-backs isn’t feasible.
January 27, 2019 at 10:29 am #41538
Good call, StL…..and therefore good luck too. I will be the first to admit that watching on TV probably provides not only comfort but also a place to sneak in a good cigar when the lovely Gator-3 is distracted (I have an HD TV in my garage), but it also provides a more comprehensive and nuanced view of the game. Very little, if any, “what just happened?” goes on and you sure get better views of the action overall. But it lacks the “feel” and excitement of the game, the noise, the discomfort even in the hot sun, the feeling of comaradarie with 85,000 or so of your best friends, the brotherhood of high anxiety…..these are the very things that I miss and running down to Austin or over to College Station just doesn’t provide the passion of the Swamp being filled to capacity…..and being part of it.
I feel pity for those college students. Most of ’em don’t even know what they’re missing.
January 27, 2019 at 12:29 pm #41539
I’ve lived within range of the stadium most of my life. In the early days the only thing that kept me away was budget and availability. As I got older and better off the budget wasn’t such an issue but with age came wisdom and wants have to have bang for the buck. Games had to be with going to. For a time the value wasn’t there. Now we go to 2-3 a year part championships and bowls. Would go to more but the cupcakes aren’t worth it though we watch at home. I think power five or group of five opponents would boost some attendance.
January 27, 2019 at 1:40 pm #41545
Replace the obvious patsies with some AAC teams — a little risky, maybe in down years — but what the hell. They would love it for the sake of credibility and possibility, we’d most often get a good game and would still be more likely to prevail than not, and it would be sure to better fill the stands. But it still wouldn’t overcome the empty seats even during competitive SEC games! That remains a disappointment — at least perceptually — I wonder if anyone has the figures to actually disprove that.
January 27, 2019 at 9:35 pm #41554
Not sure that’ll do any good 6, even if Stricklin can negotiate single game contracts with AAC teams. Look at the recent hassle negotiating with UCF.
I was at the Mizzou game this season (OUCH!). Mizzou is better than any AAC team as demontrated by the way they tanned the Gators’ hides in the Swamp, yet the student section was 1/3 full at kickoff and slowly filled up to only 1/2 full by end of 1st quarter. That was pathetic! 😖
I don’t believe marginally improved quality of opponents will put more butts in student seats for games vs. non-rival teams ranked outside the top 10, even in a good season like 2018. An undefeated championship run, as in 2008 and 2009 will, but that performance level isn’t realistically sustainable year after year, after year.
January 28, 2019 at 10:12 am #41556
Yeah, you’re probably right.
I think UCF was overcome by the vapors and a heavy dose of delusional thinking, but maybe do one and ones with them anyway as long as they can keep their end of the bargain, plus USF and of course Miami.
But then again, you’re probably right anyway.
January 28, 2019 at 11:42 am #41561
UCF had a hell of a run but they didn’t play a AL, UGA, UT, UF. I think they would have been smart to suck it up and play us and in the chance they beat us gain some respect.
January 28, 2019 at 12:25 pm #41564
I grew up in rural Florida listening to Gator games on the radio. When our HS coach brought us to Gainesville we had seats in the green bleachers of the south end zone. I don’t think that could happen today with the game day expenses and costs.
I been to many games through the years, sat in nearly every area and have witnessed the slow progression of “modernizing” Florida Field and Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. A lot of the luxury upgrades to the stadium have not worked out the way they thought. Ticket prices, hotel rooms, parking and related expenses have climbed to a point where the games are on a different level of entertainment and seed high expectations for fans.
I don’t know if we can ever go back or should to the simple days of college football at UF. When they are considering moving the student section to an endzone to focus on filling every seats at the cost of the university experience, I’m skeptical. As an alumni, the enhancement of profitability is not my first priority.
January 28, 2019 at 12:40 pm #41566
mtn I miss those days too. There was something of a ‘feel’ that while still there is not like those days. My dad had a friend that flew a WWII bomber through the stadium during a game. I missed it when I was in the service but he was given a choice to donate the bomber to the Smithsonian or jail. The bomber is now in the Smithsonian. I believe it was before the end zones where improved and people in the skyboxes could look down on the plane. While I am not condoning the action the stadium has changed a lot and I think they need to at times look at experience v profit ( I own a business and understand that well) to make it something fans want to be ‘there’ v couch or bar.
Thanks all for the input. I hope there is more.
January 28, 2019 at 11:43 pm #41569
For those of us that went to the JM college back in the day, we have the distinction of going to classes within the home stands. Not only were there classrooms, labs, radio and television studios but all the athletic offices.
Now the building is nearly all athletic offices.
There’s a lot of office space in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
January 29, 2019 at 9:29 am #41573
From USA today article by Dan Wolken. Most was about funding of stadiums but the quoted line by one of the interviewees says a lot about the younger set.
“For people of a certain age, the idea of sitting for three hours and watching a game seems a little archaic,” Koonin said. “The idea was to create experiences in the building that allow people to go do and experience different things.”
January 29, 2019 at 10:36 am #41576
Experience different things? Like what? Play with your damn cell phone for 3 hours? Make out with the guy next to you? Visit the new and improved transgender latrine? I’ve heard everything now! How about watch a damn good SEC team play and sing “We are the Boys”? That’s not enough? It’s a football stadium, damnit!
January 29, 2019 at 11:15 am #41577
6 I think the digital gen has the attention span of a gnat. Just think the story was a sign of things to come with the younger set.
January 29, 2019 at 1:42 pm #41580
Back in the days MTN mentions above, college games were played on Saturday afternoons, the NCAA controlled one TV contract with ABC, only 2 games were televised nationally every Saturday AND home games were “blacked out” within a certain radius of Gainesville. If a student wanted to see a home game LIVE, he/she had to buy a ticket and sit in the hot sun “for 3 hours and watch,” with NO WIFI and NO jumbotron for replays either. There was also no HD TV to watch from their couches, or bar stools either. So, the student section was full for ALL games, even though tickets prices for students were subsidized back then too.
I agree with MTN. We won’t be returning to those days any time soon. So, the UA has to find ways to get folks who value the experience of “being there” to end up with tickets to each games. For alumni seats, the free market still does a fair job of that through StubHub, or other ticket resale options, including “ticket brokers.” There aren’t too many empty alumni seats at most games. For visitor seats, the number made available to other schools should be reduced and be based on past sales for SEC and FSU games, with a requirement to return unsold tickets one month before games to be made available for general admission sale.
The student section presents a special problem. With artificially low prices for student tickets and so many affluent students attending UF today, those students are buying 6 to 7 game season packages just for the privilege of “choosing” which 2 or 3 games to attend. The rest they “choose” to watch from their home couches, or local bar stools.
The UA can reduce the size of the student section, but that won’t guarantee that half still won’t turn out. They can return to not checking for student IDs, but I doubt that solution will work with their socialist sensitivities. So, the only viable option left is to sell more student tickets than student seats and give refunds to those students with valid tickets who are turned away at the gate on the day of the game. In other words, create artificial competition between student ticket holders for a limited number of student seats.
I’ll bet that if the UA does that, they’ll still “find” enough students who enjoy the “archaic” ritual of attending home games. And none of them will oversleep and show up just before half time! 😉
January 30, 2019 at 9:33 am #41585
STL I think you got the biggest part of it with the change in TV scheduling. Combining that with short attention spans and overall laziness. Here is the other thing. The seats are empty but there is huge money from the TV rights that likely more than offsets things. Still the students that don’t go and learn to experience the game are missing part of being in college.
January 30, 2019 at 11:32 am #41588
You’re right 65. Money is not the issue. ESPN TV rights have taken good care of that.
The issue is bad optics. It just looks terrible to have TV cameras trained on a half empty student section, especially when we know every empty seat is paid for by some student that wouldn’t be bothered to show up. It hurts recruiting… a lot!
Many students today are making a cynical calculation that they can afford to pay for a season ticket for the privilege of only attending the marquee games. To beat that cynicism without raising student ticket prices on all students, the UA must either:
A. Return to allowing students to sell their individual game tickets to less affluent alumni interested in attending single games, or…
B. Oversell the seats in the student section (like airlines do on flights) and offer refunds just to students who are turned away at the gate on game day.
Cynical students who don’t bother to show up on game day will get no refunds. So, they’ll be forced to show up for every game to insure themselves of getting a seat, or at least get their money back.
January 30, 2019 at 1:26 pm #41589
STL I like it. After reading about the $ that comes in from Tickets and TV. Since $ isn’t a real issue the UA should allow the youth to sell their seats with one stipulation. Since they scan the youth ID and the ticket for youth if the youth sells the seat and an ID is NOT scanned that is tied to that ticket the youth gets dropped down the list for the next seasons allotment of student tickets. Buy the tickets, attend the games, repeat the next year. Buy the tickets, DON’T attend the games and you’re on the bottom of the list the following year. If the student wants to sell his/her ticket for a large profit they are jeopardizing their chance to get tickets the following year as they are scanned with id on entry. This should be fairly easy for a computer to handle. Since the eye test is what is important here as well I think moving the students to the endzone would also help things with the camera and recruits. Encourage the youth to do crazy youth stuff in the section that as long as it is safe may help build traditions that will keep them coming back.
February 8, 2019 at 10:25 am #41727
First and foremost, they should not forget the essence of the UF experience which is the university. The greatest danger is becoming a semi-pro franchise with little ties to the school. In my opinion, that was key to the downfall of the UM program.
Instead of looking at game attendance in a pure profit sense, the university could implement a promotional policy with deep discounts for high schools for academic rewards and scholar recruiting, or for our alumni. I can think of many other ways to use tickets and games as a way to provide “a taste” of the UF experience to recruit scholars.
Empty seats are also partially affected by all the competition in the area for entertainment dollars, especially the attractions an hour away in the Orlando area. I’m fine with the Gator displays and exhibits that have been built at the stadium. Let’s continue to be watchful and careful to keep the university as first priority as we address these other issues.
February 8, 2019 at 11:29 am #41729
mtn2top, the Gators already provide free game tickets to high schools willing to organize (and pay their own way) for groups of their athletes, accompanied by adult chaperones, to tour the university campus, sports facilities and attend games. These qualify as unofficial visits for any recruits that attend.
February 8, 2019 at 10:47 pm #41748
I’m sure it’s that way for athletes, how about scholars?
February 9, 2019 at 12:09 am #41750
While high school administrators are encouraged to bring their prospective recruits to the free ticket games, they’re not forced to do it. Some scholars come too.
I suppose that program could be expanded, but there’s not much return on that type of investment. Keep in mind that most home games are already sold out. It’s just that many ticket holders opt to stay home for the less appealing games.
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