Thursday, August 26, 2010

Marketing gimmicks can't save BC's attendance issues

When I saw this morning that USF was the latest college football team to enlist help from Groupon, I thought it was time to discuss BC's annual struggle to sell out all our home games. (Note: BC has been using Groupon for a few weeks.)

Despite Groupon and giving away multiple tickets to season ticket holders, it is very unlikely that BC will sell out the Weber State game or Kent State game. This isn't very surprising but given that Weber State will be Herzlich's return, it is very disappointing. More disappointing is that we have Notre Dame, Clemson and Virginia Tech on the home schedule this year. In the past, demand for those games would be enough to lift sales for the entire season.

The soft ticket sales are not all BC or its fans fault. There remains a softness nationwide due to the economy. You can even get Red Sox tickets at face value, which was unheard of five years ago. I also think game fatigue has set in too. BC used to play five or six home games a year. The diehards love the idea of an extra game and an extra tailgate. But for the casual fans, it doesn't mean much.

Despite all the built in excuses for the empty seats, there are two obvious mistakes that BC should avoid going forward.

1. Never schedule a home game Labor Day weekend.
As long as BC starts classes after Labor Day, having a home game is a mistake. Students are drifting in and the campus and school are not in their regular routines. Plus it is the last weekend of the summer for many fans. They don't want to be sitting in Alumni watching a cupcake game. They want to be at the beach. Add in Boston's PGA event and you have a drag on demand. I know BC doesn't want to start the season on the road every year, but the trade off is a buzz-killing home opener.

2. Always put the FCS game on Parent's Weekend.
This used to be one of BC's smartest moves. They would squeeze in a cupcake game on a weekend where you have 10,000+ extra ticket buyers. However, they've gotten away from it the past few years as they had to reshuffle schedules due to coaching changes and Hofstra dropping football. That resulted in Virginia Tech being a home game this year (and likely a night game). A VT night game would be a major draw anytime. It is a wasted opportunity. Plus I think most parents would rather have a day game and go out to dinner with their kids on Saturday night.

I didn't even touch on donor-based seating, or tailgating or style of play. Those remain issues where BC has less flexibility. What they can control is marketing and scheduling and right now they are making obvious mistakes and in turn creating a lot of empty seats.


Raj said...

also an added note- on season tix, the tickets used to be all of equal value. But this season the three marquee matchups are listed at $50 while the first two cupcake games are listed at $10.

Unknown said...

Given the popularity of "Hard Knocks" on HBO, why doesn't the school leverage the film students and produce it's own variation of "Hard Knocks." I'm sure they can edit and produce a weekly highlight reel following the same story pattern: show the "behind the scenes" of practice, highlight individual players and allow the "audience" to get to know them on a somewhat personal level, expose the coaches and their personal side, etc. BC clearly has the facilities and "personnel" (film students, musicians, editing & camera equipment). Produce the clips and distribute every Tues or Weds on the school's site and YouTube. In fact, I'm not sure why most teams don't do this. And something of this nature should also help in recruiting (possibly). But I'd also do it for basketball.

Galvin said...

kli, that is a great idea. If it's allowed (and I'm not sure why it wouldn't be - are there any NCAA restrictions we don't know about??), we should have done it this year with Herzlich. Would have been ESPN noticed. Bah! Still, should happen in the future if possible.

Eagle in Brighton said...

That would actually be phenomenal (thesis for a film studies Superfan?). Precedent does exist for a successful campus film series (recall "The BC") btw...

Emil said...

we have a film school???

just kidding. that is a good idea, tho.

EasyRider said...

I would love for BC to open up with either a conference game (Clemson 2006) or a serious non-conference (read non-FCS/MAC) game. Let's put em out there a little bit and see what happens. I love VT scheduling Boise and think we could get over this always being at the bottom or just out of the polls to start the season if we got a little aggressive and tried to warrant some real national attention we could make the proverbial jump.

modest34b said...

I think we need the 'practice' with weber and Kent. Get the kinks out. Kinda preseason (pre conference) games Imagine facing USC or 'Bama in 10 days !!! The boys ain't yet ready.

Big Jack Krack said...

I am against the type of schedule we have this year - first 2 games will be played before an empty stadium.

There's no excitement, hence we have to have special offers for Virginia Tech and Clemson.

GDF is a great example of the Peter Principle. We're in the ACC but going backwards in many respects.

Labor Day weekend games might work if we played Texas or Ohio State or USC or ND. Otherwise they are a terrible idea, Gene. Hello - is there anyone home?

Thomas said...

What about USC would scare you this year, other than their name?

BCDoubleEagle said...

Reality check: it takes two to tango. Gene cannot unilateraly make our football schedule; the non-conf opponents have to be available on the dates when we need them, and they have to agree to play us on those dates.

Big Jack Krack said...

The fact that BC could still lose. We still have an OC with very little imagination.

But I was speaking more in terms of teams that may spark an interest over the long weekend.

The BC game day experience is so bad that we are losing the battle to HD TV. I'm no longer a tailgate guy (I fly up to the games from SC), but if I was I'd consider this - what's wrong with having a tailgate party at a friendly venue, and then watching the game on a large TV? For crying out loud you can't even have a picnic style tailgate(no grills, etc) on the Brighton campus. This is a major problem for BC and GDF can't make it right. He'd rather collect his $1M with no heavy lifting.

Big Jack Krack said...

Double - I understand and agree - but there were some pretty good teams available for negotiation when Hofstra dropped football.

GDF took the first call and accepted. I think Boise State was still available at the time.

Maybe I'm in the minority - but it seems as though there is very little buzz - and there won't be any for another 3 to 3 1/2 weeks.

The ticket sales were off by at least 5,000 last year.

Big Jack Krack said...

BTW - can you imagine the grief if UCONN beats Michigan on the road on the same day we are playing Weber State?

I dislike CT quite a bit - especially that crook Jim Calhoun and all those who filed suit against us, etc. However, Randy Edsall has done a pretty good job with that football team.

CT said...

Well, Thomas, USC is still loaded. The scholly reduction will hurt, no doubt, but Kiffin is a good recruiter and a pretty decent coach. UT fans hate the guy, but only b/c he bolted. They loved him when he was needling Urban Meyer and acknowledge that he was a good in-game coach, too. I still think he's a jackass willing to bend the rules.

They've got plenty of talent coming back this yr at USC, even if they can only play spoiler. It'll be interesting to see how they're affected by the reduction when we play them in a few yrs. Most programs are crippled for 5 yrs after such a punishment, but it appears that USC has done a pretty good job of keeping the guys they want, with the exception of OL Henderson.

I'm giving GDF a pass for the schedule this yr. He had to fill a slot pretty quickly when most schools schedule 5+ yrs out. Boise is playing at Redskins stadium, so maybe they had stipulations about how they could increase their exposure in the East, who knows?

Either way, with such a favorable schedule this yr, if we don't win 9games, it'll be a failure, in my opinion. It's never been set up better for us. Pick a QB by the end of wk 2 and roll with it.

The biggest fan of any WR not named Flutie is probably Montel Harris. Pls tell me we have someone who can run on the outside.

mod34b said...

CT -- what did you do to tick off Master Krack? -- As in, "I dislike CT quite a bit"

Personally, I don't think you are that bad. :~)

Dan said...

ESPN already has a Hard Knocks Knockoff about Alabama. Saban even has a Jets binder on his desk when they interview him. He should really remind his players though not to pull up to practice in brand new trucks with spinners or in Range Rovers if he doesnt want the NCAA up his ass.

SaturdaysOnShea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SaturdaysOnShea said...

I'm not sure I agree with you about the VT game being a night game. I was on the men's rowing team and my senior year the VT game was on the Saturday night of the Head of the Charles. My mother was up for the HOCR and I made her buy a ticket for the game...despite the fact I was racing the next morning. The two of us sat in the section directly opposite the students and I will say this...I have never, NEVER seen my mother more enthusiastic about a sporting event. In that game Gunnell ran back a punt and I remember my mom jumping to her feet during the return and saying, "THIS IS FOOTBALL!" I think you might underestimate how much parents appreciate a REAL game on Parent's Weekend. Granted, I'm sure they enjoy a quick game in the afternoon and dinner in the evening, but there are few things similar to real college football and I think a lot of parents appreciate that.

America said...

The "hard knocks" idea is a great one.

Two years ago the Athletic department created a Multimedia service department. I am actually one of two full time employees in that department. (I just started in June). We are working hard to grow the department and produce more video content for the web.

I will suggest this idea and see what we can do next year (perhaps try it in the Spring). As the department grows so too will the amount of content that we are able to produce.

Thank you for the suggestion!!

Also if you are going to the game on 9/4 be sure to be in your seats 10mins before kickoff!!!


Matt said...

Thank GOD BC is finally putting different face values on the season tickets. This is a no-brainer.

For someone who buys season tickets but cannot go to all the games, it is VERY hard to sell a $40 Weber State ticket for $40, but may be much easier to sell a $50 Virginia Tech ticket for $75.

Unknown said...

Another issue not addressed: what is the benefit of being a season ticket holder that renews each season? This is our 3rd season as ticket holders...we have not gotten our seats bumped down at all. The emails I get that talk about "rewards" for being "loyal" include 4 free tickets to Kent State or Weber State and the opportunity to buy VT and Clemson tickets before they go on sale to the public. Number 1: I already have tickets to these games so why would I need more? Number 2: Even if I could use extras for family or friends, they wouldn't be sitting with me anyway! Number 3: Free tickets to crappy games that BC can't get rid of, and the opportunity to buy extra tickets at FULL PRICE to good games aren't really what I call "rewards". Maybe if BC showed us how much they DO value us as "loyal season ticket holders", more people would continue renewing!

Kevin said...

"Hard Knocks" type shows are definitely legal. Maryland and Virginia both have them on the DC/Baltimore sports channels. Since my wife is a UVa grad i've seen that one a few times and it's actually pretty good although I haven't tried to explain to her that Virginia is losing 10 games this year.

BCDoubleEagle said...

Shinskie named starter and Quinn suspended. Swell.

mod34b said...

Dillon Quinn is suspended for 3 games - or until the October game against ND.

"Claver's" post of March 17 re DQ being DQ'd is now all the more interesting:

Let me put it this way, the rumors about him [DQ] coming in are true, think Barry Bonds.

It hasn't been reported but I found out about a month ago from a good source and him not being on the depth chart (for absolutely no reported reason) makes it even more likely.

The penalty is 365 and I believe it happened in October [2009]

Dan said...

I think he got suspended for violating the team rule that all D-linemen must get injured before the season starts.

Ian said...


Seat upgrades unfortunately don't just happen, especially now with donor based seating. This will be my 11th year as a season ticket holder (following 4 straight years while a student) and we had to pester the ticket office to upgrade our group this season. Now, there are 7 tickets in our group, so I understand that it's not the easiest to keep us together the way we'd want. Our seats for the last 8 years were in section PP (5 yard line) row 29. We were able to upgrade this year either to lower in PP or at the same row one section closer to the 50. We chose to get closer to midfield. Not a tremendous reward for loyalty, but at least it was something. Squeaky wheel gets the grease.