The University of Minnesota’s athletics department is still struggling to sell Gophers football to students.
Amid a steady decline in sales, Gophers athletics began a $10 single-game ticket deal for students and non-students following Saturday’s 28-23 victory over Western Michigan.
The discounted non-student tickets — nearly 5,500 — were sold out within 48 hours of the deal going online, Gophers associate athletics director Jason LaFrenz said.
But students have yet to catch on. LaFrenz said the athletics department has sold only 4,000 student season tickets and has more than 2,000 single-game $10 tickets left in the student section for this Saturday’s game against Syracuse.
Attendance for the Gophers’ first two home games is down 7 percent from last season, despite an aggressive marketing campaign in which the athletics department handed out thousands of free tickets to students.
Minnesota will take its 3-0 record into its first nationally televised game and first night game this season at TCF Bank Stadium.
“We expect to have a full house,” LaFrenz said
Students can purchase the discounted tickets at Mariucci Arena up to three hours before kickoff. LaFrenz said he expects students to buy them closer to game time.
Gophers football coach Jerry Kill also extended his on-campus sales campaign last week, handing out free tickets to students for the Western Michigan game. Athletics director Norwood Teague did not accompany Kill as he did the day before the Gophers’ game against New Hampshire on Sept. 8, when they ran the same promotion.
“It’s marketing 101,” said Bob Hughes, president of the Gophers football booster club. “Having Teague and Kill go to Coffman and interact with the students — it’s bringing the message to the customer.”
LaFrenz said he believes Kill will be out again this Friday handing out free tickets, but he added, “We’re not 100 percent sure — it’s Kill’s call.”
Hughes said he has noticed fewer students at TCF Bank Stadium on game days than previous years. “Fans want to support a winning program,” he said.
The athletics department is taking the ticketing problem one step past “marketing 101” and to the Carlson School of Management.
A group of six Master of Business Administration students from the Carlson School are working on an “analysis package” that plans to outline some of the main issues surrounding empty seats in TCF Bank Stadium’s student section, LaFrenz said.
The consulting started after Teague met with Arthur Hill, associate dean at the Carlson School, at a University function, said Sarah Gisser, the program director for Carlson Enterprises.
The Carlson Enterprises group consults for a variety of corporations across the Midwest, but Gisser said this was a unique opportunity to aid the University in a pressing issue.
The six MBA students will conduct research on campus. They plan to speak with students during the week and at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturdays, and they expect to present their findings to the athletics department in mid-December, Gisser said.
UMN students have traveled to Florida colleges to collaborate with students on various projects.
When UMN students plan for a vacation, having trip cancellation travel insurance is a worthwhile commodity to check out.
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