The Attendance Issue

During my freshman year, I was unable to get student season tickets to bulldog hockey games.  Instead, I would scramble the internet trying to find a ticket, sometimes coming up empty-handed just because of the demand.

The rink was always busy.  If one didn't get there right before the rink opened up, seats up close to the glass were out of the cards.  For the most part, the upperclassman always got the best seats.  They were the ones who got there well before the doors were opened to the public, brought signs and other props, and made sure everyone in the "UMD Penaltybox" lost their voices on Friday and Saturday.

Unfortunately, that's just not the way it is anymore.

If you forgot to buy a ticket, you could simply go to the facebook group and find one with ease.  Instead the usual $10 for "bad" teams and $20 for "good" teams, getting a ticket is easier and cheaper than I've ever seen.  I've boughten tickets for friends plenty of times this year; never have I payed face value and the last ticket I bought I spent a grand total of two dollars on.  TWO DOLLARS!

Now as far as ticket purchases go, attendance isn't down as low as you would think.  For the most part, UMD is still selling 5000+ tickets, so the revenue flow isn't taking a huge hit, but how many of those ticket holders are actually showing up?

Let me lay this our for you...   On March 3rd, 2013 (last Saturday) the announced attendance was 6,039.  Of those 6,039 tickets that were sold, only 3,929 were scanned in.  Where were the 2110 people that purchased tickets but didn't show up?  That's a big number!

Scary, huh?

Now why is this?  Why aren't students coming to support a team who just won a national championship a couple years ago?  Why are there empty seats littered over a brand new arena?  Why is it that the high school section final that took place in Amsoil Arena last weekend was much louder than any bulldog game has been all year?

Now those are the questions.

I have some guesses.  Some explanations as to why Amsoil is as empty as it has ever been, and we'll discuss them below.

1) 80% of student season ticket holders are freshman.  Not that this is a bad thing, but when the team isn't doing so hot and people have been getting kicked out, freshman that are half-interested in what is actually going on will obviously choose to just avoid the whole situation.

Why are they the majority?

It's not there fault, they were in line the longest, so they deserve the tickets, right?  The freshman were able to start lining up 24 hours in advanced because skipping general psychology and intro to art are classes they are able to get away with by missing a day.  Unfortunately the elder bulldog hockey faithful cannot skip upper-division classes and didn't want to sit in the upper deck, so buying season tickets just wasn't an option.  You can find the ole-faithful usually in the Curling Club, located outside of Amsoil or even at home.

2) The administration hammer.  Now we can't throw the blame all at administration, but its as plain as day they they do in fact play a role.  The school wanted to make a point and end all racist, sexist and cussing chants to make the college hockey environment more family oriented, which yeah, okay, fine, whatever, but they did it the wrong way.

Student's were plucked out of the student section for chanting anything sexist or racist and yelling swear words, or words close to swear words like "fudge" and "bull-spit", believe it or not.  Now, with a large population of ticket holders not caring about being at the game in the first place combined with new rules eliminating many chants and a struggling hockey team, what's stopping them from selling their tickets and finding a house party?

Again, don't get me wrong, this isn't all on the administration folk, but it is obviously a factor.  I understand cleaning up the language, but to be honest I think UMD has one of the cleanest student section's in the WCHA.

3) Talent on paper.  I mean there's no doubt the Dogs have had their fair share of troubles.  It was expected with the departures of impact players.  Obviously, this plays a role in the amount of people that are going to travel to the game.  But, in contrast, there were years when the Dogs played worse and the turnout was much better just because the atmosphere was there.  So how much can you put on a team that's playing decent?  I guess it's a personal opinion.

4) Failing student section + not a fantastic team = failing atmosphere => less fan attendance.  Pretty simple math to be honest.  Without a loud and yes, obnoxious student section a COLLEGE hockey game loses the COLLEGE atmosphere.  Fans pay to go to the games to watch college hockey and enjoy the college atmosphere.  Now, take away the college atmosphere and now plenty older fans lose interest in going.  I mean why would Bob and Nancy want to go to a game where there is no college atmosphere?  They can watch the game from home in the comfort of their own house for that.

So Yeah.

There is no single group to point fingers at, but a bunch of variables all acting to create one large problem.  How do we fix this?  Well, another golden question.  As for this year, sorry, but we can't.  If you're goal is to sell Amsoil out for this weekend you're out of your mind.  The damage has been done. But what about next year?

Well, there are literally to many things to name off that could have been done differently this year, but the main issue I want to look into is how UMD distributes student season tickets.

After many meetings we've come to a conclusion that the best possible idea is to give those who are loyal and have been student season ticket holders the longest, first dibs.

Our idea is this- Tickets will be sold throughout the week, online, based on how many credits one has completed.  For example, students with 120+ credits can purchase their tickets online on Monday, then Tuesday students with 90+ credits completed can register and so on as the week progresses.

This option allows fans who have been loyal for a long period of time to have a chance at getting season tickets without forcing them to miss classes they shouldn't, or couldn't miss.  It also weeds out those who simply go to the game because its "the cool thing to do".  This allows students who have a passion for the game to attend, which in turn creates a drive to cheer and promote, right?

Also, I know the whole "online" term scares the athletic department right out of their boots, but if we can fix the shopping cart issue in combination with the sales being spread through the week, we should have no problem with this.

Get it?

So I hope that helped you understand a little bit of what is going on.  I know some people aren't aware of all the variables that actually have played a role in the vanishing student section.  The goal of this post was simply to inform those who may not be aware of the variables involved and to prevent the pointing of fingers and blaming others.

I mean in the end, we're all cheering for the same team right?

If you have any new ideas feel free to drop me a message or tweet at me.  I'm always looking for other opinions!


Questions?  Comments?  Ask Below!


Anonymous said...

Well done sir. I agree fully. As someone who graduated last year, it is hard to see how bad it is this year. But i will be in the student section this weekend hopefully making things tough for uno.

~ orange choppers guy

Anonymous said...

I agree games are brutal now, not because of the team but because of the fan section. One issue you did forget to mention is how hard core the cops are at games this year, its almost impossible to go to a game and not see the cops take someone out. Drinking and hockey go together like spaghetti and meatballs. Sober students = less enthusiastic, and students being scared to go to games if they have drank. I hate to be the typical college student but it's the truth.