Student season tickets are still available as Gators begin 2014 season
For years, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium has been regarded as one of the toughest places to play in all of college football. The architecture of the stadium makes it feel like the crowd is right on top of the field and the fans – especially the students – are as raucous as any fan base in the country.
However, it appears the 2014 season may not reach past standards. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Florida is on the verge of not selling out the 50,000 ticket allotment for Florida students before the start of the season. It would be the first time this has happened in more than 20 years.
In that OS report, current figures show that “thousands” of tickets still remain available for the game against Idaho.
A big reason for the drop off in ticket sales could simply be the Gators’ recent on-field performance. With the exception of their 11-2 season in 2012, Florida is 11-14. They haven’t been a very exciting team to watch. Yes, the defense has always been among the best, but the offense has been far from good.
Since Will Muschamp’s arrival in 2011, the Gators have averaged only 23.6 points, including a dreadful 18.8 points per game last season.
One could also point to the attendance issues around all of college football, not just at Florida. Earlier this spring, Michigan launched ticket packages to encourage more fans to buy tickets due to low sales.
— Mark Snyder (@Mark__Snyder) May 28, 2014
Recent research suggests that athletic departments across the country are finding it difficult to get people into the stadium and for them to stay there. So Florida, as well as the SEC, has launched fan initiatives to hopefully impede this growing attendance issue.
The Florida athletic department recently announced that the video screen will now feature games from around the country, before pre-game festivities start roughly 45 minutes before kickoff. Fans will now be able to watch the other action in college-football in real-time. There will also be more streamlined video presentations, group ticket packages, improved cellular service in the stadium and even fireworks for fans to enjoy, among other initiatives. UF has even provided an opportunity for fans to win a VIP experience at The Swamp, which would include behind-the-scenes access on game days.
“The world changes, and I think successful organizations have to change with it,” Florida athletic director Foley told USA Today. “We can’t just throw our hands up and say, ‘Oh my gosh the millennials aren’t interested.’ We have to help them be interested. You have to find out what’s important to people now.”
Florida even has formed a Fan Advisory Council, which will be a blend of season-ticket holders, including current students, recent alumni and various boosters at different seating levels. The goal of the council will be to work with the athletic department and come up with solutions to attendance issues by improving the game-day experience for both students and fans.
Will all of this work? Only time will tell. Ultimately, winning will be the best solution to the Gators’ attendance woes. If points are scored and games are won, you’ll see The Swamp full again and back on track as one of the sports’ most electric atmospheres.