BY RYAN BLACK | firstname.lastname@example.org
AUBURN, Ala. — Everybody loves a winner.
That’s what Jay Jacobs is banking on, anyway. Auburn’s athletic director said Thursday that the school’s ticket sales are down 4.7 percent compared to the same point last year. The Tigers’ average attendance was 82,646 per game last season, its lowest mark since 2000.
But if Auburn starts to turn things around after its 3-9 showing in 2012, Jacobs believes that number will start to trend upward again.
“Why would you want to pay a TUF (Tigers Unlimited Fund) and the price of the ticket if you know you can walk out on the street and get them?” he said. “ … We certainly expect if we’re successful on the field Saturday, we’ll probably end up selling out.”
The 4.7 percent decrease in tickets sales adds up to about $600,000 in lost revenue. Jacobs mentioned the Tigers are “at an all-time high” with premium seats. It’s the low-level tickets in each of the end zones that the Tigers are having a hard time selling.
Auburn is far from the only school dealing with a drop in attendance, though. Jacobs is a member of a committee — and one of two athletic directors — that meets with ESPN every quarter to discuss how to combat declining attendance. ESPN repeatedly expresses its feelings on the matter: obviously it cares, Jacobs said, since they want to broadcast games with sold-out stadiums.
“It’s something we talk about all the time,” he said. “What is it we can do to enhance the game day experience and get people to come to campus? Even though ESPN and the SEC TV (network) is going to generate some revenue for us, having the game on campus with a sold-out house is what college football is all about.”
The advances in technology and the ever-increasing popularity of social media have made it easier for people to stay at home and watch games on high-definition televisions.
Getting more fans to attend games is the main reason prices have remained the last two years, Jacobs said, one of the many actions Auburn has taken to try to improve game day experience.
“That’s why we (have) got to keep adding parking places,” Jacobs said. “We’re (still) not where we need to be. That’s why we’re going to have a movie Friday night at the baseball field. That’s why we’re having a lunch Friday with (head football coach) Gus (Malzahn). That’s why we’re opening up our locker room, just to make it more value added so you don’t just sit at home and watch it on television. You come to campus.”