Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Season ticket sales

Some have been asking about where season ticket sales stand for the Aggie football team.

Well, I called the NMSU ticket office yesterday and got some answers. And, frankly, I'm impressed.

It seems like the school is expecting a rise in season ticket purchases this year. According to NMSU ticket manager Patrick Kennedy, the Aggies are on pace for a 95 to 98 percent renewal rate on the 7,300 season tickets sold last year. Kennedy also said that the box office has sold 800 season tickets to new buyers. In other words, it looks like there will be over 8,000 season ticket holders, and it's only late June.

Kennedy went back to the 2000 season, his first year at NMSU, and went over season ticket sales. They go as followed:

2000: 3,003
2001: 3,712
2002: 4,236
2004: 4,073
2005: 5,000
2006: 6,612
2007: 6,277
2008: 7,313
2009: Possibly over 8,000

That, to me, is a respectable climb when one considers that the program has not been successful. They haven't had a winning record. They've been through three coaches. Yet, season ticket sales are climbing.

A few reasons, in my opinion

1) Season tickets are dirt cheap and have been lowered. Not by much mind you. The 2006 and 2007 seasons saw NMSU charge $114 for its most expensive season ticket. This year, that same season ticket can be bought for $108 (other season ticket prices are $70, $50 and $42). In 2000, the most expensive season tickets at Aggie Memorial Stadium were $71 for five home games. The cheapest that year were $20.

2) I think the NMSU administration has done everything it can to sell tickets to football games. It has been an uphill battle, but certain people have been put in place at NMSU to try and wrap their arms around the issue of selling tickets. Promotions have been put in place, in some cases as a sense of desperation. Remember last year when tickets were sold for $2 apiece for the Aggies final home game against Louisiana Tech? Again, you're not going to find a cheaper ticket for a college football game anywhere in the country.

3) Entering the WAC has clearly helped. In the team's first year in the new conference, season ticket sales jumped to 5,000. Now, it's up to 8,000. The WAC is a better football conference than the Sun Belt with bowl-eligible teams coming into town on a regular basis, the occasional opportunity to see a Top-25 opponent and wide-open offenses throughout the league. More fans have come out since the school stepped up in leagues.

4) You gotta give DeWayne Walker and his coaching staff credit for this particular year. Kennedy was excited about the number of new season ticket holders at this stage of the summer. Walker stepped into a tough job. Simply speaking frankly, the community was down on the program, particularly during the second half of last season when Hal Mumme was on his way out of town. The team wasn't winning and selling tickets was becoming problematic. Walker has come in and has endeared himself to the community. I spoke with Mayfield High School offensive line coach Brian McCartney today, he was very impressed by the new Aggie coaching staff. The staff has come out and has made its presence be felt around the community and at the local high schools. Having new season ticket holders after last season, a lot of that is a reflection as to how the community has responded to Walker.

I will have a story on this in the next couple of days, just wanted to get it on the blog for some chatter.


Anonymous said...

First, for those of us who were interested in how sales were going, thank you for getting this information.

Look at the pluses:

95% to 98% renewal is great -especially given the record last year and the economy

About 800 new season tickets is about a 10% increase. That's good.

It's over two months until the start of the season, so there is time to add even more season tickets.

All of this was done with a faltering economy, which makes it all the more impressive.

What are the minuses?

Well, these numbers sure don't assure a sellout every home game, do they. About 50% to 70% of seats for season tickets is a good number to shoot for. That allows new and casual fans a chance ot see games.

Prices were reduced - so there won't be very much revenue increase from last year. In fact, if most of the new season ticket holders attended at least three games last year, it could mean less revenue.

There's a new coaching staff, so it is a good time to capitalize on the optimism that comes with the new staff. 800 is not a real lot of optimism.

Looking at it in total, it is a good start. I think there needs to be some aggressive promotion to alumni and friends of the universtiy not only in Las Cruces, but around the state.

Why not partner with local hotels and motels and offer ticket and a room packages to promote to alumni living between 250 and 750 miles from Las Cruces? Maybe the package can feature a couple of games, witha discount on the ticket and a special rate for the lodging.

Promote Football at NMSU as an economical recreational activity in these tough economic times. For $200 a family of four can have 6 affternoons of major entertainment. That's a good deal. (Take advantage of the economy, like movie theaters do. Their admissions are up in the current economy. The football package is at least as good a deal as the movies.)

What about promoting travel to away games? Yes, that helps home attendance.
1. Target alumni within 200 miles of each away game. Try to get them to come support the team in their backyard. They then may come back for homecoming or other games if they have a good experience. (A few years ago, I called Pan Am ticket office to try to get tickets to an away game (Cal), and I was told I'd have to contact Cal. I still get mailings from Cal encouraging me to buy season tickets or single game tickets!
2. Put together inexpensive packages for students and Las Cruces area alumni to go to away games - Plane or bus transportation depending on distance, ticket, and lodging if needed.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for looking into this for us.

Although it is good to see an increase; NMSU is hoping to hit the 12,000 mark! It certainly looks like that number won't be met.

The economy is absolutely brutal and some people want to see change on the FB before they commit.
I'm sure the Athletic dept. isn't happy about not meeting it's goals but, it's good to see the #'s grow and not decrease.

Personally, I get my season tickets every year, win or lose. I go to the games because the AGGIES are playing!!

Teddy said...

12,000 seems a bit out of reach.

Anonymous said...

I think we have a chance to reach 9,000-10,000 season tickets. If NMSU beats Idaho. You might see more fans buying them after that game.

Anonymous said...

anon 9:53 sparked an idea the Aggie promotions staff might want to consider. They could promote an offer on the PA at the game. Anyone who bought a game ticket for Idaho could apply the cost of the ticet to a season ticket. From a marketing viewpoint the offer is going to people who have an interest in the product. When someone is interested is always the best chance you have to make a sale.

This might work to pick up a couple of hundred more season tickets, especially when the Aggis show they are for real with a win. (At least, let's hope so..)

Anonymous said...

They better get what they can this year, as its likely to be a tough sale after the 2009 football season. Phil Steele picks the Ags #120 in his 2009 college football magazine. And yes, that's dead last in the BCS division. I'm still glad we cut Mumme loose, but rebuilding at a school like NMSU can be brutal (as we all know too well - 0-12 in 2005). And before you Lobo fans start to chuckle, PS has UNM ranked #114. Could make for a close rivalry game this year.
-Aggie Glare

Anonymous said...

The average increase since 2000 has beena bout 560 tickets per year. At that rate, we would be looking at about 7900 for 2009. I think that 8500 to 9000 might be a reasonable projection. Until season tickets reach the 15,000 mark, it will continue to be a struggle to have solid attendance game after game.

For a lot of reasons, it is important to sell as many tickets this year as possible. Building a base of seson ticket holders is an important step in moving the football program toward respoectability. Needless to say, winning half or more of the games consistently is another.