Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Season ticket woes – one of these things is not like the others

Monday July 19, 2010

We’ve looked a few times already this summer at how the economy and other factors are affecting season ticket sales in the football-crazy South.  It’s not to gloat – Georgia could be just another disappointing season away from similar problems, and it’s very much a there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-we situation.

The State newspaper in Columbia looked at the problem from a South Carolina perspective and updated some of the information we had relied on for our earlier posts. The market remains soft for several major programs in the area hoping to sell the remainder of their season tickets.  Specifically:

  • “Season ticket sales at USC are down 9 percent from last year and have dropped about 20 percent since 2008…There are entire sections in the upper deck at Williams-Brice Stadium that are nearly vacant.”
  • “Tennessee invited fans into Neyland Stadium last month to check out the more than 1,000 seats available.”
  • “At Clemson, ticket sales have dropped 13 percent since 2008.”
  • “The Yellow Jackets have sold about 900 fewer season tickets than they had at this point last year.”

The State’s article goes on to look at some of the factors behind the lagging sales as well as some of the marketing approaches teams are trying to stir up demand. Lots of good info, and they could have stopped there.  But one more school was cited as evidence of “flagging ticket sales.”

Georgia recently lowered its cost for a first-time season ticket buyer to $1,550 — down from $10,651 two years ago and $4,205 in 2009 — after more than 2,000 Bulldog fans chose not to renew their tickets.

In an article about how area schools are struggling to find buyers for, in some cases, over 1,000 unsold season tickets, they mention Georgia:  a school that not only sold out of season tickets without offering them to the general public but which also had to refund season ticket orders to Hartman Fund donors below a certain minimum score.

Hartman Fund minimum donation levels to purchase or renew season tickets run $250-$400 for seats outside of premium club areas.    That means that a first-time donor this year had to donate at least four times the minimum just to have the right to order season tickets in the far reaches of the stadium.

True, it’s not the outrageous demand of 2008 that saw first-time cutoffs of over 10,000.  But it’s still not evidence of scarce demand.  The explanation that over 2,000 fans chose not to renew season tickets sounds dire until we understand that there is some amount of turnover every year.  Even in the record demand season of 2008, over 800 season tickets weren’t renewed. 2,000 non-renewals in a season ticket pool of about 53,000 is less than a 4% churn and just slightly higher than a typical year.

This all might sound like small potatoes, but in an environment where the most absurd situations can be used to feed the hot seat meme, it’s an easy game of connect-the-dots for a lazy columnist to point to such articles as indicators that fans are bailing on the program.  Georgia’s season tickets are sold out, and they have been since they were first offered to Hartman Fund donors in March. 

One Response to 'Season ticket woes – one of these things is not like the others'

Subscribe to comments with RSS