John A.: Attendance decline continues | The Boneyard

John A.: Attendance decline continues

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pap49cba

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vtcwbuff

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" This is a trend that began in earnest during last season’s . . ."

I don't know how earnest the trend is, but the decline in attendance has been going on for years. So far UConn has done little (except raise parking rates) to try to bring in new fans.
 
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Maybe the attendance thing is just a tempest in a teapot. I suspect the issue is not a priority for the schools administration or they would actually be doing something about it, one would think so anyways.
 

speedoo

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The attendance decline reflects two realities: the bad economy and the aging of the UConn fan base. When the fan base was growing in the 90's, many of the new fans were in their 40' and 50's. (I know this because I was one of them, and made many friends at Gampel and in Hartford who were my age.) So those fans, now in their older years are much less inclined to attend games when they can see them on tv or hoopstreams in the comfort of their homes. Especially if they are like me and no longer live in CT. Plus, it's free to watch at home vs. All the costs of attending a game, which are significant for most folks.

Bottom line, instead of attending about 10 games a year, many fans are happy to catch only 1 or 2. Or none, if they are no longer in CT.

Eventually the economy will improve. But UConn still needs a new influx of fans, and the likelihood of that happening is far from clear.
 
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I once attended a game at USF (vs UCONN). Free tickets and a free hot dog for students.
The place was packed. As a senior citizen, I can no longer take the torturous seats in Gampel of the hassle of Hartford.

Marketing 101: The issue for UCONN should be attendance at any cost in exchange for the goodwill that will generate alum donations. Many other institutions understand this. UNC has special parking lots for alums and donors. etc.
 

EricLA

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People can complain about the decline all they want, but until UCONN does something to address it, i suspect it will continue to decline. seriously, why go to Gampel and sit on concrete benches when you can watch it on CPTV in HD in the comfort of your home? frankly i'm surprised attendance hasn't dropped further.
 

alexrgct

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There are a number of issues at play here. Some relate to UConn specifically, and some are more general issues.

Make no mistake about it: the primary seller markets for live events are hurting EVERYWHERE. This is not just a UConn problem. Some of it is the economy. Some of it has to do with secondary markets like StubHub; why buy seasons tickets when you can buy only tickets to the games you really want to watch and have direct control over what seats you get? Some of it has to do with the proliferation of HDTV and improvements in coverage/production in general. The sad reality is that watching a game in HD is preferable to watching it live in an upper-bowl seat (especially when you factor in travel time, parking, and other expenses/hassles). Finally, we live in an era of multi-tasking, and younger people are increasingly becoming accustomed to following multiple games/involved with multiple acticities, and going to a single game and being able to focus on a single thing is becoming progressively less attractive. Bear in mind this isn't just my opinion; this has been generally accepted in the business as issues that are applying negative pressure to the live entertainment industry. I was listening to a podcast with the CEO of Ticketmaster, and although he's a very bright guy with some good ideas, I didn't hear any silver bullets that would resolve these issues. And if he doesn't have the answers, the marketing department of UConn certainly won't.

Now, one gripe I do have is that Ticketmaster is a partner of UConn's, but they seem to trying out their most cutting-edge ideas with pro teams. I would suggest that the opposite approach would be better, namely, try out your craziest ideas at the college level first where the stakes are lower. Honestly, if I'm UConn, I tell Ticketmaster to have at it. Try out anything you want with our programs. Let us be your early adapters. They're the sixth largest eCommerce company in the world and are starting to act like it. Work with them more closely.

OK, so what are the UConn-specific issues? The aging fanbase issue has been discussed with great frequency. I also don't like the two-arena approach, but UConn is caught between a rock and a hard place along those lines. If UConn had its druthers and didn't have to pretend to care about the students, they'd play all their games in Hartford. It's more convenient to more of the fanbase to play there. Going to Storrs is a pain in the ass for most people.

And another big problem that doesn't have an obvious solution is that of the novelty wearing off. When UConn started kicking ass in 1994, it was new and exciting. Over the next 10 years, it continued to be. But now? People take for granted that the women's basketball program is really good and is going to continue to be really good. If you're a UConn fan, you've seen four undefeated seasons, a 90 game winning streak, seven NPOY, and seven national titles that include a three-peat. Nothing is special anymore. No player is special. No team is special. Nothing, no matter how great, isn't something you've seen before or won't have the opportuity to see again. No WBB program in the country, not even Tennessee, can touch the heights UConn has reached since 1994. For locals, it's so predictably good that there's no urgency to, say, shlep to Storrs on a Saturday night to watch UConn blow out an overmatched opponent. And over the past couple of seasons, it's especially acute because the team hasn't been quite as good. The teams have been Final Four-caliber, but not juggernauts. I bet you'll see a bit of an uptick over the next couple of seasons where UConn does have juggernaut potential, though it won't be a silver bullet kind of uptick.

The excitement going on in Waco right now? UConn has been there and done that. Fans selling out opposing arenas when UConn goes on the road? If UConn only played one game a season in CT, that would happen here too. As is, there are a lot of negative-impact pressures and a lot of games played in this state, and it's going to conintue to hurt attendance.
 
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THE TREND
2009-10 RPI SCORE ATTENDANCE
Hofstra 121 (91-46) 8498
Richmond 84 (86-37) 8523
Clemson 92 (87-48) 8735

2010-11
Howard 177 (86-25) 7064
Lehigh 96 (81-38) 7039
LSU 51 (81-51) 8120

2011-12
FDU 219 (74-28) 6047
Buffalo 164 (90-34) 6156
Dayton 46 (??-??) ????
 
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I think that there might be some ideas for attendance that could be garnered by looking at what is done at New Britain Rockcat games over the past ten years. The management there has done many various and wonderful promotions that entice families and people young and old to attend. It's supposed to be fun and with clever marketing those seats can easily be filled, particularly if you top it off with a great product like the UConn Husky ladies. It also wouldn't hurt to cater a little to the older folks who have the disposable money to attend by improvements in seating and parking.
 

ochoopsfan

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My 2 cents from 3000 miles away.
Too many blowouts over bad teams, HC, Pacific, FDU, Buffalo.
I would rather see a competitive game than a blow out.
I love to go to high school games out in So Cal and love to watch Mater Dei games. However, I am not $pending money when the other team isnt competitive, whether its HS or College games.
I will see Mater Dei play about 3-4 times when they play teams who can be competitive.
Start scheduling more games vs Stanfords and Dukes and Oklahomas and less against the 4 teams I mentioned in line two above.
 

alexrgct

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My 2 cents from 3000 miles away.
Too many blowouts over bad teams, HC, Pacific, FDU, Buffalo.
I would rather see a competitive game than a blow out.
I love to go to high school games out in So Cal and love to watch Mater Dei games. However, I am not $pending money when the other team isnt competitive, whether its HS or College games.
I will see Mater Dei play about 3-4 times when they play teams who can be competitive.
Start scheduling more games vs Stanfords and Dukes and Oklahomas and less against the 4 teams I mentioned in line two above.
Respectfully, this is a red herring for three reasons:

a) There simply aren't that many consistently good programs in WBB, and UConn plays most of them other than Tennessee. Who else should UConn be scheduling...besides Tennessee?
b) There has been a downward trend in attendance even holding the quality of opponent constant.
c) UConn blows out good programs, too. UConn absolutely eviscerated OU last year. Duke too. There just aren't that many programs that year in and year out aren't at risk of getting blown out by 30+ by UConn. It could be Hofstra, it could be UCLA, it could be Buffalo, or it could be Texas, but the result would be the same.
 

KnightBridgeAZ

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There is no question, I suspect, that some fans do "skip" blow-outs, but I'm fairly certain there are fans who can enjoy just watching UConn "perform". Likewise, there are certainly fans caught in the cost crunch. I'm beginning to think that part of the reason things can be so darn cheap at some schools with lesser attendance is not only because the fan base wouldn't tolerate it, but in reality the funds generated wouldn't offset the fan issue. At UofA, parking is free or max $5.00 if you have to use the parking deck. Season tix were under $200 IIRC. Aging is also an issue, you can see it at Rutgers where there are still core fans who were coming when CD the elder played there. And while we don't usually do it for WBB, even here in Tucson we stayed home to watch football on TV instead of the residual costs and time factors of going to the game.

All of the factors mentioned in the thread sound true, but attendance for UConn is still excellent. I would be most interested if there is anyone who doesn't attend as much as previously for some reason OTHER than the ones discussed, some factor no one has thought of.
 

ochoopsfan

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Respectfully, this is a red herring for three reasons:

a) There simply aren't that many consistently good programs in WBB, and UConn plays most of them other than Tennessee. Who else should UConn be scheduling...besides Tennessee?
b) There has been a downward trend in attendance even holding the quality of opponent constant.
c) UConn blows out good programs, too. UConn absolutely eviscerated OU last year. Duke too. There just aren't that many programs that year in and year out aren't at risk of getting blown out by 30+ by UConn. It could be Hofstra, it could be UCLA, it could be Buffalo, or it could be Texas, but the result would be the same.

Agree on part c, but the difference going in is that you might get a competitive game from a Duke, Oklahoma, or even a Dayton. Also, you might even get an upset. You know the other schools mentioned are basically going to result in a one sided workout. People are more discretionary with how they spend their dollars and I would rather spend more for a good game than see any of those 50 point routs. Buffalo and FDU should not be on UConns schedule.
 
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Before going to radical measures, the UConn athletic department might try taking a course in Introduction to Group Sales. BOth basketball teams spoiled the Athletic Department, , blasting right to the top almost out of nowhere, the teams marketed themselves and the department was spoiled, never really had to learn the tricks of the trade. Now that self-marketing edge is rapidly eroding. They still have a good product to sell, but they need to actually get out and sell it.
 

Ozzie Nelson

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The attendance decline reflects two realities: the bad economy and the aging of the UConn fan base. When the fan base was growing in the 90's, many of the new fans were in their 40' and 50's. (I know this because I was one of them, and made many friends at Gampel and in Hartford who were my age.) So those fans, now in their older years are much less inclined to attend games when they can see them on tv or hoopstreams in the comfort of their homes. Especially if they are like me and no longer live in CT. Plus, it's free to watch at home vs. All the costs of attending a game, which are significant for most folks.

Bottom line, instead of attending about 10 games a year, many fans are happy to catch only 1 or 2. Or none, if they are no longer in CT.

Eventually the economy will improve. But UConn still needs a new influx of fans, and the likelihood of that happening is far from clear.

Excellent analysis Speedoo...
 

UConnCat

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Buffalo and FDU should not be on UConns schedule.

I'm not sure many teams that should be on UConn's schedule were looking to spend Thanksgiving weekend playing in a tournament in Storrs, CT rather than the Bahamas, or Puerto Rico or Cancun or Hawaii. The organizer of the World Vision Classic (or whatever it's called) was fortunate that LSU showed up last year and Dayton this year.

Next year UConn will spend Thanksgiving in the Bahamas so the group that puts together this tournament -- Basketball Travelers, Inc. -- will have to find another desirable location for its tournament.
 
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People can complain about the decline all they want, but until UCONN does something to address it, i suspect it will continue to decline. seriously, why go to Gampel and sit on concrete benches when you can watch it on CPTV in HD in the comfort of your home? frankly i'm surprised attendance hasn't dropped further.
I agree. also, the competition is so bad(some early games-like FD), that for the first time ever I turned off my TV before the game was over. I think it was 48 to 5 at half-time.
 

pinotbear

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" This is a trend that began in earnest during last season’s . . ."

I don't know how earnest the trend is, but the decline in attendance has been going on for years. So far UConn has done little (except raise parking rates) to try to bring in new fans.
usually, I think that ticket prices/parking prices are a smaller factor than the things that affect the overall "experience" - things like backless seats, hassle of travel, availability of televised games. But, I'm begining to view the increase in parking prices ($12 to park in a windswept lot) and the presence of "yellow coats" guarding rows of empty lower seats as somewhat arrogant. The University seems to be saying that they are willing to spend a lot of money to control access to their product (it can't be cheap to have all that staff around), but not to improve the comfort of their patrons. They'll spend time and money promoting corporate partners, but take their fans time and money somewhat for granted. They've assumed that the fans will show up regardless: when they don't, the University howls with outrage.

You want to win fans back? Make them feel wanted! Make them feel as important as the silly products and companies that you endlessly promote. Stop sending the clear message that the empty seats in the lower bowl are more important to you than the actual people sitting crammed together in the upper bowl (if I got any closer to the inner thigh of the guy behind me at the FDU game, we'd a-gotten engaged.) Stop charging more than twice as much to park outside in Storrs than inside in Hartford.

Despite the conversations over the past few years about declining attendance, the University still hasn't changed their fundamental attitude towards women's basketball: they take the fans for granted. When every game was a sell-out, they could get away with it. Now, Stanford isn't even a sell-out.
 
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I would suspect that some basic grass roots marketing would have a very positive effect, such as but not limited to getting a few of the players with Geno and CD the senior to go around to the states middle and high schools to promote the games with some free tickets and parking give aways for those students and parents so that the idea of going to the games becomes part of the expectation of the students and that demographic as a whole, give away something like 200 tickets with free parking every single home game to the next generation, this is essentially free. Doing things of this nature is what will nurture the next generation of fans. Hell look at the New Britain Rock Cats they have a a team that by and large is average at best and they always get butts in the seats. The marketing concepts are very simple and can be organized by 1st and 2nd year business / marketing majors, have the students at Uconn do it for credits. it is very simple, and easy to institute. Uconn already has all the capacity needed on the campus right now. jmo of course feel free to disagree at your leisure .
 

vtcwbuff

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It is really refreshing to read a civil discussion of a topic that I first opened a while ago. At the time I was called "chicken little" among other less pleasant things. By the end of last year most BYer's had recognized that falling attendance was going to be a problem. The Athletic Department also acknowledged the problem. Their solution was to schedule more home games. The head coach's solution was to rant at the fans for being spoiled - at least until a couple of BYer's pointed out the issues driving fan erosion.

I believe that marketing the team is the solution. Students. students and students would be a good start. Market the game to women who are generally under represented in the UConn fan base - and the Boneyard as well.
 
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The several posts above dealing with the aging fan base and the novelty wearing off are, unfortunately, right. Those who say the university does not seem to care are right, too. The tournament just concluded is a good reason why the average attendance is down. Who really wants to see the #2 ranked team in the nation plan Fairleigh Dickinson. Everyone thought it would be bad, and it was worse.
 
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I would love to attend more games and I am willing to pay more than the current asking price for seats, BUT I am only going if I can get good seats where I can get a great view of the team and the plays. I would go even if it is not a competitive match-up since the UCONN approach is to play great team basketball regardless of the opponent. In Storrs and Hartford those good seats all seem to be owned by people who do not attend, so neither do I. If the choice is either my living room or a nose-bleed location watching ants scurry around on the court from seats made of rock, than that is no choice!
 
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I would love to attend more games and I am willing to pay more than the current asking price, BUT it has to be a seat where I have a great view of the team and their plays. In Storrs and Hartford those seats all seem to be owned for the season by people who do not attend, so the arena looks terrible for the team. I would attend even if the competition is weak because UCONN plays up to its own standard (I just see less of the starters and more of the end of the bench players). If it is a choice between my living room or a nose-bleed seat watching ants scurry around with my head twisted from a seat made of rock by interrogation teams, than that is not a choice at all.
 
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I would love to attend more games and I am willing to pay more than the current asking price for seats, BUT I am only going if I can get good seats where I can get a great view of the team and the plays. I would go even if it is not a competitive match-up since the UCONN approach is to play great team basketball regardless of the opponent. In Storrs and Hartford those good seats all seem to be owned by people who do not attend, so neither do I. If the choice is either my living room or a nose-bleed location watching ants scurry around on the court from seats made of rock, than that is no choice!
I used to buy tickets at the box office or Ticketron...never again. I went to today's game and bought a ticket from the friendly scalper outside. I paid a bit of a premium, but in return I got a seat center court, lower tier, six rows back...right behind Bob and Kara. I agree about attending the games to see UConn and I am not so concerned about the quality of the competition, although I expected Dayton might hang with us a bit longer. The worst part for me, living in the western area of the state, is driving through Hartford. I just won't do it on a weeknight anymore, which is one reason I went today. Since I only go to a few games a year, I don't mind paying extra to a scalper to get seats which are never available from the box office or Ticketron.

BTW, I saw John A wandering around quite a bit, as if he wasn't that interested in the game...just struck me funny
 
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Respectfully, this is a red herring for three reasons:

a) There simply aren't that many consistently good programs in WBB, and UConn plays most of them other than Tennessee. Who else should UConn be scheduling...besides Tennessee?
b) There has been a downward trend in attendance even holding the quality of opponent constant.
c) UConn blows out good programs, too. UConn absolutely eviscerated OU last year. Duke too. There just aren't that many programs that year in and year out aren't at risk of getting blown out by 30+ by UConn. It could be Hofstra, it could be UCLA, it could be Buffalo, or it could be Texas, but the result would be the same.
You're right about consistently good programs, but there are consistently middle-of-the-road programs that have occasionally wonderful years and are always respectable. I submit that a home-and-home series with respectable makes a whole lot more sense than a one-off with Fairleigh Freakin Dickinson, for crying out loud! The result, in terms of the benefit to the UConn team, is not the same whether it's Hofstra or UCLA. It's just not, even if UConn beats each team by 30.
So, if I were running the world, who would I schedule? Well, I cannot know whether these teams would be interested, and in some cases the travel would be a logistical nightmare, and at least some of these teams would not want to use up a non-conference slot for a near-sure loss. Even as I grant you all that, I ask you to suspend disbelief for a moment, okay?

Marist. Temple. Florida State. Wisconsin-Green Bay. Gonzaga. ASU. UCLA. Cal. Maryland. Miami. Xavier. Iowa State. Texas. Texas Tech. Georgia Tech. Vanderbilt. Penn State. Kansas State. Michigan State.

Some of these games would be blowouts. But while this is basketball, it is also entertainment. Fact is, people have actually heard of these programs, as opposed to, say, Iona, which lots of people have never heard of at all. People might want to come just because it's Michigan State, even if Michigan State isn't paricularly well regarded this year. They are marquee universities, if not marquee programs, and that alone can generate some excitement that the Towsons of the world cannot.
 
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