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.