UF, SEC administrators looking for ways to fill stadiums

The college football attendance drop was an average of 1,409 per program in Division I last year. Florida dropped 1,131 fans in attendance in 2017. [Alan Youngblood/Staff photographer]

The revelation brought plenty of condemnation. College football attendance was down in 2017 — not just down but the second biggest drop in the sport’s history — and the reasons why were almost too numerous to count.

Blame it on the millennials.

Blame it on ticket prices.

Blame it on the TV that dictates game times and the TV in your sports room that has a bathroom and a refrigerator close by.

There are a multitude of reasons why fewer people went to college football games in 2017 than 2016. Now what are you going to do about it?

That’s the question that athletic directors and their staffs are wrestling with after the latest numbers were revealed and met with a gasp by fans who thought their sport has never been healthier.

The college football attendance drop was an average of 1,409 per program in Division I. Most alarming is that the conference with what is annually the best attendance — the SEC — had the biggest drop by losing 2,433 fans per program.

While administrators are looking for ways to make the fan experience better, there’s one obvious one that they can’t control.


In theory, the more fans go to games, the more likely the home team will win, right? But the teams that struggle to win always have to deal with a drop in attendance.

The biggest drop in the SEC came at Arkansas, which went 4-8 and fired its coach and lost an average of 6,357 fans per game. Ole Miss, which is on probation, dropped 6,229, but played its three biggest games — Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi State — on the road. Tennessee, which went 4-8 and fired its coach, dropped 4,809.

“There are multiple components to it and winning is certainly a huge component,” Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said.

Florida dropped 1,131 fans in attendance — from 87,846 to 86,715 — despite an attractive home schedule that included Tennessee, LSU, Texas A&M and Florida State. Florida also went 4-7 and fired its coach with four games to go. This year’s home schedule includes three softies and no rivals at home.

“We’re on track with last year’s season ticket sales (last year Florida sold about 49,000 season tickets),” Stricklin said. “With the excitement of a new coach I think we’ll be stable or even see a bump.”

A month ago, Stricklin talked about improvements at The Swamp, but any massive upgrades will have to wait until projects with baseball, softball and a football-only building are complete.

“We’re not going to sit back and not improve where we can,” he said. “But we don’t want to rush into those other major improvements because they are all important.

“I look at this as a 5-to-7-to-10 year facility plan and The Swamp is probably 5-to-7 and may be 5-to-10. It’s not just one fell swoop. It’s really a 5-to-10 year facility plan.”


Nobody likes sitting in the metal stands for a noon game in September. Especially in Florida. But television networks control the times and don’t release most of them until 10 days before the game, sometimes six days when they decide to hold them waiting on results.

Florida, as most schools do, polls its season ticket holders often about what their biggest concerns are with the game-day experience. One that always comes back as an issue is the time of the games.

The ideal spot is 3:30 p.m. because it allows for ample tailgating and either an enjoyable evening afterward or a trip home for out-of-town fans.

But everybody can’t play every game at 3:30. The networks want to spread games throughout the day.

“It’s a challenge,” Stricklin said. “It’s hard to fix that. What we’d like to see in our next contract is for the networks to set the times before the season. I think our fans would appreciate that.”


This is an area where you can only do so much because of limited space on the campus. Parking is at a premium and leaving a game after it’s over can mean a sea of hardly-moving tail lights can be seen from the sky.

“We’re in a better situation than a lot of campuses,” Stricklin said. “Traffic and parking are always something we’re trying to improve on. But if you’re stuck in traffic, you’re stuck in traffic.”

This is one of the main complaints of season-ticket holders.


This is the slipperiest of slopes.

On the one hand, everybody is looking for ways to make the game experience better and what would be better for many of those fans on a hot day than to drink a cold beer?

Almost 40 schools have introduced alcohol sales to the general public. The revenue is an added plus — as much as $3 million for Texas — but do administrators want to turn the stands into a keg party?

The SEC has a policy set by the presidents that alcohol can only be offered in designated areas where the most expensive seats are sold. Florida began offering beer and wine in its Champions Club and Touchdown Terrace two years ago.

The revenue from those sales is almost insignificant and the goal was never to add a major revenue stream. Last football season, UF’s royalties from alcohol sales were $54,577.92.

But the alcohol sales in this conference are more about customer service to the biggest contributors than making money.

Don’t look for that SEC policy to change any time soon.

Noting that SEC stadiums were at 98 percent capacity annually, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a recent interview that he wondered if it would ever be worth it to bump that number up to 99 percent at the expense of selling alcohol to the masses.

“So is that one-percent margin a trade that we’re going to make?” he asked.

In an email reply, Florida president Dr. Kent Fuchs said, “The consumption of alcohol before and during football games is a periodic topic of discussion among the SEC presidents. I hope the SEC retains its current policy regarding sale of alcohol in stadiums.”


In the end, you want people to want to come back for another game.

“Investing in bathrooms and concessions and parking are a little bit of insurance that even if you lose a game by a field goal, people are still going to want to have something they don’t get to experience every day,” Stricklin said. “They don’t want to miss it.”

Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte likened it to going to Disney recently on a radio show in Texas.

“If you look at Disney, the experience of your children going to Disney starts when they receive that ticket,” Del Conte said. “They fly to Orlando, you get in the hotel and you get all of the experience until you get to the gate. Then you wait in line for three hours to get on the Matterhorn.

“You get on the ride for 40 seconds and then you do it again. But what happens when you get back to the hotel? Your kids say, ‘Dad, that was awesome! Can we do it again?’ We’ve got to create that same experience all around our venues.”

Florida has taken it a step further. The University Athletic Association has spent time with Disney personnel to collect ideas on how to make the customer experience better.

“The destination is worth the journey and we want to make the destination worth the journey,” Stricklin said. “Our staff has been down there a couple of times to meet with their people and get some ideas about how to produce the level of service we want to provide.”

Laird Veatch, who came to Florida from Kansas State in May as the executive associate AD for internal affairs, took his first tour of The Swamp, and he was impressed by the structure of the stadium.

“The bones of The Swamp are pretty incredible,” he said. “It’s more about the finishing touches.”

He is one of the UAA members who has met with Disney officials.

“The way the culture is established is pretty incredible,” he said. “They have a unique and thoughtful way of doing things. There’s another level we can get to.”


Several years ago, Florida administrators journeyed to Kansas City to see how the soccer stadium there did such a good job with several customer-friendly services, including improved wireless.

It’s still an issue.

“They couldn’t make it work,” Stricklin said. “Connectability is a bigger issue for the student body. We’re trying to accelerate that and not wait for the major renovation.

“We’re selling all of our student tickets. It doesn’t mean they are going to get there at the start of the game and stay for the whole game if the score gets out of hand.”

A recent Wall Street Journal survey showed a drop of 7.1 percent in student attendance since 2009, 5.6 percent among Power Five schools. Florida makes approximately 19,500 tickets available for students at a reduced cost.

“I think nationally, that’s a big concern,” Veatch said, “because that is the future of your fanbase.”


You hear all the time that tickets have become too expensive with the added contributions required to purchase the premium seats.

Florida did not raise ticket prices for the upcoming season. UF’s average ticket price ranked fifth in the SEC in 2016 at $69 per ticket and two of the least expensive tickets to an SEC game were at UF that year ($26 for Kentucky and Missouri.)

“It’s commonly used, but we still have more than 85,000 people buying tickets,” said Mike Hill, the UAA executive director for external affairs. “But the reality is that people have more choices.

“We know if we’re competing at a quality level, we’re going to sell tickets.”

Just look at the SEC Championship Game this year where fans were paying an average of $725 per seat to watch Auburn and Georgia play and packed the stadium in Atlanta.

Because, in the end, there’s nothing like being there.

“You might have seen the Tennessee game on TV this year, but if you were there it’s something you’ll never forget,” Hill said.

If there is a bottom line here it is that throughout the country, athletic departments know that filling stadiums is getting more difficult and are working to solve the issue.

But in the end, it still comes back to putting a product on the field that makes you want to be in the stadium.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at pat.dooley@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.


  1. Step 1) Stop the patsies and stop putting whatever stupid priority there is to play Miami. Start doing home and home games with out of region teams. Go play Nebraska in Lincoln and then have them do a return game. Or Cal, or Penn State, or anybody other than the weak sisters of the poor and hungry. Start every season with a bang, not a whimper.

    Step 2) Make the seating in the stands more comfortable. A seat the size of Paris Hilton’s ass is the most expensive real estate in all of Florida! Redesign the inside of the stadium to be more of a light show. Whoever is in charge of the “music” being piped through the PA system is fired!

    Step 3) NO, NOT 5 YEARS, NOT 10 YEARS, NOW!!! Again, we have another athletic director that wants to think, evaluate, design, and then be another 10 years behind schedule! This is football, the life blood of your athletic department. Go get the job done, and get it done, NOW!

    • Step 1: I would love to see the home and home games with other power 5 schools. But that has nothing to do with the drop in attendance. The schedule is no different now than in the 90s.
      Step 2: I think they should go to chairback seating thru out the entire stadium. But then again, that has nothing to do with the decline in attendance. The seats have been the same since the stadium was built.
      Step 3: Why would you spend millions in a hurry when you have not figured out the reason that attendance has declined?

    • Don’t hold your breath for Step 1. I don’t think the Gators have played a home and series with anyone out of conference since USCW back in the ’70s with Charley Pell as head coach. I’d rather watch a well played loss to a big time school anytime over a blow out win over the Little Lame Sisters of the Poor and Homeless Academy Dipsticks from Eastern SW State School in Bull Hockey, SD.

    • Yeah Thomas, because playing Michigan Game #1 last year worked out so well.

      I for one am ALL FOR a couple of patsies to start the season. If they want to to add UK or a Vandy in the first two games that’s fine, but I said YEARS AGO when we scheduled Michigan to open up with last year that it was a big mistake, and it was. Our schedule going into last year was brutal, and not to mention look at all the injuries we incurred playing it too. It was literally every week we were losing one or more starters for the season.

      What two teams played for the NC last season? Why it was TWO SEC TEAMS. We play in the SEC already, the toughest conference top to bottom in the country, we don’t need to travel all over the country and scheduling more games with more top tier P5 teams to make a case for ourselves. You lose and it hurts your chances of making the play-offs, period.

      There is absolutely NO REASON to make our schedule so darn tough every year that we can’t make the play-offs. Heck, even Bama plays an average allotment of patsies every year, usually about 3.

      stop hiring incompetent second-rate coaches and win game and the fans will come and spend money, and oh yeah, stop jacking up ticket prices every few years.

  2. If Mullen turns us into a winner, we’ll be hitting 90K again just like in the good ol’ days of National Championships. If not, more people will be sitting in their living rooms watching the Gators on a 70″ HD screen, in air conditioned comfort, with a cold one in hand.

    • Even if Mullen returns us to winners, I will still not go to games based up the reasons listed int he article. Too expensive, cramped and uncomfortable seating, high temps, NO BEER, traffic congestion, no parking, you name it. I can sit in my easy chair in the A/C with beer and food just a few steps away for no cost. Why shells out hundreds of dollars on something I am not going to enjoy.

  3. The biggest difference I’ve noticed in the 23 years since I graduated is the student section. Large blocks of students always seem empty, as do swaths of the North end zone. You can blame this on a number of things, but when UF decided to try to become an Ivy league caliber “institute of higher learning,” we got a lot more kids who don’t care about all of the UF experience. We lost some of what makes us what we were–a bunch of well-rounded students who rallied to scream ourselves mute to support the Gators. We’re a different breed now. When we have life long die hard kids from Gator families who have 4.5 GPAs and 1350 SATs, and they can’t get in because there’s another kid from out of state ($$) who has a 4.6 and 1360, our culture suffers.

    • So, Jason, you agree with political based public education of today that has basically ruined our secondary education system, which has dumbed academic standards down to please the less intelligent American juvenile masses. And one wonders why America is starting to take a back seat to the rest of the better educated countries of the world. UF is about academics first. It is not about football first. Sorry to inform you of that fact. And that is how it should and always be. And it is not UF’s fault that secondary students in Florida are so poorly educated in public schools that they cannot meet UF’s high academic standards. That is unless you are a high school football player that can run faster without much use of the brain cells in his head. If a “student” is that, getting in with a 2.0 is not much of a challenge. But, occasionally, you read about the combined athletic and academic achievements of football players like Jordan Sherit, and ones hope for America improves.

  4. We love to come to the games and stay over the weekend and enjoy the whole game weekend experience. I would like to see the UAA get with the hotels and offer a realistic price for game weekends. Maybe some affordable packages for season ticket holders or out of state fans that have already spent thousands for tickets and travel just to get there. Add to that the amount they will spend on food and shopping while there and game weekends cost about the same as a mini vacation. There is no reason to gouge fans at $400+/night just because you can. If the trip were more affordable you would probably get more people attending. The increase in room costs, ticket prices and booster “contributions” over the last few years have forced us to only make it to 2-3 games a year rather than 5-6.

    • Gator shane. Your and other less academically focused kids could always get into the University of North Florida and study with the kids of internet trolls. Or, they could apply themselves in secondary school and meet the UF academic standards and get in, which internet trolls could not do.

  5. Skyrocketing costs for the entire game day experience is the number one reason fans don’t come as much. The other reason is because the availability of games on TV and how much the TVs have actually improved. We can now stay home and watch the games on big screens in HD and get drinks and food at a much lower cost. Not sure if there is an easy fix.

  6. Yes, hotel ticket prices are outrageous, I’ve already looked into getting rooms for away games, Vanderbilt and Tennessee, absolutely ridiculous.
    Also the Ivy League status issue has some relevance. It’s gonna get worse, when you have all of these foreign students getting in school before home grown kids you will be paying the price for attendance down the road. Are these students coming back and becoming boosters and having their children come here. I do not intend for this to sound racist or even be political, but facts or facts. Also WINNING is BIG. I’m sure there are dozens of reasons attendance is down. I don’t think you are going to solve or have an answer for all of them.

  7. Jason, I agree with you 100%!!! I have been saying for years that since the administration has decided to turn this place into the “Stanford of the South”, that the higher the required GPA to get in, the lower the student turnout is. I would like to know the % of students who graduate now and have never stepped foot into an athletic event on campus…I know the goal is to get a good education, but we need to be turning out well rounded people and yes, it would be nice for some consideration of getting children in who’s parents are alumni..

    • Gator82. You would think that kids of parents of UF alumni could get in without special help of lowering UF academic standards in order to do so. Maybe, those parents should expect more from their kids academically and culturally, or simply buy a Toyota and a less expensive home instead of Benz and a country club home and use the saved money to send their kids to an Ivy League type private school where academic standards are the main focus of the school.

    • I think its terrible to not focus on the Florida children and children of alumni. Who ever thought this up, I am sure it was not someone from Florida.

      I had season tickets for 30 years. Got tired of the way Foley handled hiring coaches, treating fans etc. We could not sniff a ticket to any big game even after having tickets for 30 years. Something is not right but that was King Foley. I turned my tickets in, I had enough

  8. Well, I cant speak for most of the sports, or most of the people, but its time the football people started thinking again. The game from the nfl down is getting boring. no one wants to throw the ball downfield. so what some computer thinks you should, or before that woody hayes or someone didn’t like to throw. If it takes giving 8 points for a twenty yard throw, or 4 points instead of 6 for a rushing touchdown, basketball did it with the 3 pointer…And as much as I hate to say it, lets allow quarterbacks to use steroids. college football does not need its most exciting player as a qb for west Virginia instead of florida field. The best plays in florida football history were all passes. and we need real receivers coaches like Gonzalez and Dwayne Dixon, not some guy 24 years old like the linebacker coach or the last receivers coach, that just uses UF as a training ground. Anyway give the offense style points like the skaters in the Olympics. I wont remember much but the one guy that did 5 quads….and he lost because they over punished his mistake.
    I know Georgia South Carolina and Arkansas will fight this, they are mindless and unimaginative anyway. Id kick them out if they got in the way, they don’t belong in the SEC anyway, Georgia Tech does (but Bear Bryant messed that up for everyone, another story).
    sorry purists, I like fun. you go watch a random number generator if it does something for you, that’s what its looking like to me. I had more fun watching usf and ucf play last year than most of the last 10 years of gator football.

  9. The product on the field was a steaming pile of horse hockey. No one wanted to watch Nussmeir’s pitiful offense go three and out 10 times a game, all while exhibiting the most predictable and straight up boring play calling the world has ever seen. The fact that so many fans actually went to the stadium at all given how terrible the coaches were is a testament to the loyalty of most Gator fans.

    It’s an old adage: offense fills stadiums and defense wins championships. Guess what? You can do both. Win games, score points and the students and the fans will show up and stay for the game.

    There was a time when Florida fans filled the stadium every Saturday even when the team was terrible. Back then local folks could afford tickets and it was something to do. Now, with the seat licensing fees, many of the locals can’t afford the tickets, so there are more long distance fans who will choose to stay home rather than come in for a game when the team is coached by morons. I don’t think anything they do will change that reality. The farther away the fans, the more likely they are to choose to stay home when the team is boring.

    The opponent has something to do with it as well, but back in the day I would go see a game even against Citadel or some directional school because I wanted to see what Eric Rhett was going to do, or Jaquez Green, or Percy Harvin, Tebow…etc… I was excited to see what our defense would do and how the big time players we had on D would perform. It was fun to watch them all play, and of course the big games were even more fun, but I turned off more games this past season and wouldn’t watch them even sitting in my living room because the coaching was terrible and there was nothing to see but the same incompetence week after week after week.

    So that’s it, new AD. Hire good coaches and do not give extensions and raises to idiots like Nussmeir. Reward success, not failure. Score points, win games, compete for titles. Al the rest will take care of itself.

  10. If the UF administration wanted to increase attendance by an average of 1,000 or so per game, they would not open the season with Charleston Southern and then schedule Idaho for the 11th game at home. If they really wanted to fill the stadium for those two games, they would schedule Washington State instead of Charleston Southern game one and USF or UCF game 11. Problem solved. But, of course, UF would have to give up a home game the next year to go play Washington State at their place, which is an entirely different problem for UF.

    • As a Florida alum who lives in eastern Washington, I’d love to see a home and home with Washington State, and you could probably get them to schedule their home game at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. WSU likes to have a game over there every now and then for their alums west of the Cascades. It’s a long flight though.

  11. The easiest fix is to win games…and put a quality product on the field.
    The games are too long. 4 hours for a college football game is crazy! The commercial breaks drag on forever. A noon game is not so bad if it can end in 3 hours and not 4.

    I don’t care if they will serve beer or not but it is funny that the SEC has such a fear of beer. Professional sports have managed to figure it out and they have plenty of underage patrons. However our administrators worry that if we have a sip of beer at UF, Satan will rise from the 50 yard line and sentence us to damnation. Even the SEC commissioner said that 1% more fans is not worth selling beer. So the SEC will do anything for fans and money, but they won’t do that! It’s just funny because it is probably the cheapest fix of them all.

  12. 1) Stop playing the loud, tawdry pop music constantly.
    2) Play some new teams…who wants to go to Lexington anymore?
    3) Spare us the cancer promotions and such..we already know about the bad things in the world. The stuff they do during the breaks is dummer than the music they play.
    4) Get a real band…hire the FAMU band.

  13. Now this is a real issue to discuss! Our real power as a 100+ year old institution is the shear number of Alumni. As more and more graduate (and hopefully more than pass), the demand for season tickets should be higher, but its not. The quote here about the per game ticket prices does not mention the booster fee attached to each seat, which is outrageous. Used to be if you were not a season ticket holder, but attended as many games as you could, you could purchase a ticket from a season ticket holder who could not attend at a reasonable or face value price. Not any more! Look on the resale sites or talk to current holders, and they want the face plus the booster fee. It just shows you how it has affected attendance. Add that to the fact that many cannot afford to purchase season tickets because of the fee (the face is usually no problem), then you have the answer. Not everyone who graduated from UF drives a Benz or lives in a mansion, some of us are still just regular middle America folks, but devout Gator Fans. I do believe that all the other stuff mentioned here contributes, especially winning record (see Orlando Magic), but not like prices. That decision to go or watch in the comfort of your own home theater (that’s what they are now), may be mostly based on pricing. I personally think there’s nothing like attending in person, but I know many devout fans who have forgotten what it was like and do not go anymore. All I am saying is, if the price to purchase season tickets did not involve me paying what would be the down payment on a new car, then I would be in line today.

  14. Everyone has a reason as to why the do or don’t go to the Gator football games. I will give you mine. I am an alum from 1988:
    1. I don’t wan to spend my precious time and money to go and see the Gators play a patsy. These games are a joke and the first thing that needs to be changed in college football. All non-conference games should be played for the Gators against a power 5 conference opponent.
    2. The team has been a disaster for the most part since Urban Meyer left. We have gone from mediocre to downright pathetic. As someone astutely observed above; How can the Gators complain about a drop of only 1,000 per game in attendance when the team has been so boring and bad with Mac and Muschamp? It’s a testament to the beloved Gator nation that attendance has been so good!
    3. The Gators absolutely need to play Miami every season. That was a phenomenal rivalry and needs to be renewed.
    4. Do something about the ridiculous hotel price gouging. It’s an embarrassment and one of the reasons I rarely make the trip from Lake Worth, and I make plenty of money and I can afford to go to every game. It’s just that I choose not to.

    To me Gainesville is a great town and one of the greatest sporting experiences I have ever had is going to Florida Field to cheer on the Gators. I have been a gator fan since 1980! Go Gators!

  15. 1. The ticket prices are not the issue. The “contribution” to buy the tickets are a huge issue.
    2 For those of us who live out of state, noon games are not realistic. I cannot leave Houston on an early Saturday morning flight (into Tampa or Orlando) and make it to a noon game. And 10 days notice is not enough lead time to plan anything.
    3. Winning cures all!

  16. Terrible opponents – Yep.

    Gville hotels need a come to Jesus meeting – I can’t pay $800 guaranteed, non refundable for 2 nights.

    Reduce the student tickets so other fans can attend. Having 1000s of kids not attending is a bad look – and the prices might go down a bit on the secondary market for regular joes.

    Fan gouging- hotels, bar cover charges, gas.

  17. 1. ~19k student tix? That number is ~1/2 what it should be. Florida Field was a near riot on game days in the 90s and that was because of us (40-something alumni). Now, it’s not much different than an average NFL game.

    2. Please play Miami. Have some shame and some nostalgia.

    3. Please win Gators.

  18. Alabama Athletics
    2018 Football Schedule
    Scheduled Games
    SEP 15 (SAT) / TBA
    SEC *
    SEP 22 (SAT) / TBA
    SEC *
    OCT 6 (SAT) / TBA
    SEC *
    OCT 13 (SAT) / TBA
    SEC *
    OCT 20 (SAT) / TBA
    SEC *
    NOV 3 (SAT) / TBA
    SEC *
    NOV 10 (SAT) / TBA
    SEC *
    NOV 24 (SAT) / TBA
    SEC *

    This is why the SEC is down, look at Alabama’s schedule, do you see a loss?
    Nope there is not one, why would any of these fans of any of these schools look forward to going to these games or in Tuscaloosa with the worse welcoming fan base in sports, all they will do is at the end of the game say how much they beat the hell out of you while ramming a yellow hammer up your rear, yep, that is what they sing. When 1 team wins 5 of the last 9 NC’s why would you spend money knowing who is going to win the game, the best game here is Auburn, but they aren’t winning in T-Town.
    CFB is to predictable, Alabama, Ohio ST. and Clemson will be in the playoffs and one other team, maybe Texas, Oklahoma or Washington State, not sure on the 4th team. But the other 3 are a lock. Do something about the recruiting rules, only so many 4 and 5 stars can go to one team. Just a suggestion. Don’t say recruiting stars don’t matter, Alabama has won recruiting 7 years in a row with many championship games in those years. It is a recruiting sport, period, they win in spite of Saban’s coaching mistakes he makes all the time, his 5*s bail him out. Like those 5 true freshman that played the last play on the field in the Champ Game, 6 months prior to that they couldn’t find the classroom so don’t tell me he coached them up in 6 months. YOU DON’T WIN THE KENTUCKY DERBY RIDING A DONKEY. CFB Champions have Thoroughbreds.
    Much less the SEC is full of Saban’s assistants, he is 12-0 against them, yep the Gators even contributed to that madness of hiring those clowns. They will never win, including Kirby Dumb, oh wait, he already lost to them, Stupid Georgia, didn’t you learn anything from the Gators the past 7 years.

  19. Ticket prices did not go up however the mandatory “donation” did in my area. Florida continues to lose and be boring and the price for season tickets go up. Makes it hard for middle class people to pay $3,000 for 4 tickets. had the same tickets since 1978.