When it doesn’t just mean more.

Yikes.

According to NCAA reporting documents obtained by the Missourian through an open-records request, the average number of tickets scanned for the football team’s seven home contests in 2018 was 24,377 per game, or roughly 47 percent of what the school reported in its game box scores.

Athletic department officials, however, say the numbers they reported to the NCAA aren’t a full picture of the actual ticketed attendance in the 2018 season because faulty scanners, which were sensitive to the elements, and poor Wi-Fi connectivity forced event staffers to move large swaths of fans through the gates without recording their tickets into the system. No estimate was available for how many unscanned tickets were allowed into the stadium.

No offense, guys, but “the dog ate my homework” defense didn’t work in the fifth grade, so why you would expect it to work now?

Mizzou says it tracks on the basis of tickets sold, and from a bottom line standpoint, I suppose that’s what matters, but there’s this, too:

“You lose concessions and merchandise, but I also think you lose the home-field advantage that you want,” said Jay Luksis, Missouri’s executive associate athletic director for marketing and revenue generation.

And here’s the super yikes moment:

“We’ve seen it a lot here lately where we’re either up big or we’re behind, and there hasn’t been a ton of close games in the three years I’ve been here. … And we need to do everything we can to entertain them while they are here because obviously we want them to stay. But sometimes it’s tough to compete with parties and restaurants and bars downtown, and also with TV.”

The school is doing what it can to combat the problem, most visibly by holding the line or cutting ticket prices, but we all know what the real problem is.

Missouri’s athletic department, like many of its peers, faces an uphill climb in getting people back into the stadium. Over the past four years, college football attendance has declined by more than 7 percent nationwide, and that’s simply using the announced attendance numbers. In 2017, the SEC, which led college football in attendance for the 20th consecutive season, saw its average attendance decline by 2,433 fans per game — the league’s biggest drop-off since 1992.

Through its media rights contracts with CBS and ESPN, which owns the SEC Network, the conference has more football games nationally televised — and more revenue from those televised games — than ever before. But it also must reckon with the options those broadcasts provide to its fans. They no longer have to come to the game to see their team play, and depending on cost, weather, traffic and ultimately their physical place in the stadium, watching from home is often more convenient and cost-effective.

If you can’t or won’t figure out a way to counter that, it’s not going to improve.  The reality for schools is that as broadcast contracts grow ever more lucrative, there’s less incentive to find ways to offset declining home attendance.  Missouri’s gonna get the same SEC Network check no matter how many cupcakes it schedules.  Not exactly a recipe for success, in other words.

24 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

24 responses to “When it doesn’t just mean more.

  1. Given market realities, where do schools like Missouri find their next generation of season ticket holders (and maybe more importantly, their next generation of athletic donors)? It’s a dark new reality for them. They have no rivalry game like they had with Kansas and the Big 12 North schools to attract people. No one in the SEC really even considers them a member. For us, they are becoming a punchline to a joke about conference scheduling and the potential end to a couple of traditional rivalries as annual affairs.

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    • Chi-town Dawg

      As we’ve discussed on this blog, the issue isnt unique to Mizzou. Even teams like Alabama and UGA are facing real challenges getting students to show up (and stay) for games. Those same students who will be the next generation of alumni ticket buyers.

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      • Yes, but last year, I know the school sold out the new alumni season ticket allocation.

        It’s a problem much more likely to hit a school like Mizzou than UGA or Bama in the short term. The “football schools” have to deal with a long-term problem with people who only understand short-term solutions.

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  2. 3rdandGrantham

    One sentence in to that article, and I just knew they would blame old people with ill-equipped scanners or whatever for the problem. Sure enough, a little further down, there it was.

    In due time, college AD’s will be bragging about how creative they were. Not creative in attracting the fans back, mind you, but creative in decreasing capacity in effort to increase the capacity % while improving the stadium’s look on TV. Redskins owner Dan Snyder blocked off sections of the upper deck with FedEx marketing sheet board looking things; Jacksonville tarped over entire sections as well. Soon enough you’ll see the same at the college level too.

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    • I am inclined to believe the scanner situation to an extent. The local G-5 team/stadium in my city is notoriously bad for gate backup and incompetent gate personnel that take inordinate amounts of time to scan a single ticket. Part of the problem is that my stadium (and I suspect others) have fewer gates and personnel than they need for all the folks who like to tailgate until the last possible second. 11am kickoff are really bad for obvious reasons. At least once a year, the local fans who are on the verge of missing the kickoff simply rush through the gates and just hand their ticket to the overwhelmed personnel.

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  3. Rival

    “…with parties and restaurants and bars downtown….”

    Yes, those newfangled restaurants and bars. Glad we didn’t have those in Athens 20 years ago to distract us from game day. Why, can you imagine how my schoolwork might have suffered if there had been such a thing?

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  4. GruvenDawg

    I am pretty sure I saw this article on this blog when it came out…AD’s are going to have to step up and work…

    Looks like Texas took the experience and game day atmospherie question seriously.
    https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/09/24/texas-longhorns-tcu-tom-herman-stadium-experience

    Ask any UGA fan if they would go to a game that felt like UGA/AU 2007 and they would say hell yeah. Hard to keep that electricity every week but 2-3 times a season should be the goal…BtW AU/UGA 2017 on the plains felt the same way except in Auburn’s favor.

    When the crowd is in it the team is amped and you can tell. The conference should demand more night games and less noon and 3 o’clock kickoffs in the next media negotiation rounds. That is when the crowds are fired up and you will never repeat that sitting in your recliner at home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Chuck (The Other One)

      Yep. More night games. Just what us folks who drive 2.5 to 3 hours up to Athens love, getting home at 2:00 or 3:00 Sunday morning.

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      • GruvenDawg

        I see your point. I guess I forgot what it’s like to drive in and out on game day…I have to get a hotel room when I go because it’s 4-6 hours depending on traffic just to get there for me so it’s already a weekend affair for me.

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      • Macallanlover

        As a program, more night games is what the UGA needs. Doesn’t work for everyone’s schedule, but with that type of atmosphere the seats will be filled by someone. It is the day games where only the very best games, one or two, will be even close to what an average night game experience is like. UGA has been hosed for years with limited night games at home. Somehow we got lucky in 2017 and boy did that light the fuse. Last season, back to the crap games at home. I think we had one night game at home last year, and it looks like the ND game will be another afternoon slot. We could really use CBS to pass on that game and watch the spectacle unfold on the WWL; fat chance. Really wish CBS would lose the SEC contract this time around and get rid of the 3:30 time slot for the biggest SEC games.

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  5. Texas Dawg

    When you have super games on the schedule like Middle Tennessee State, College of Charleston, Austin Peay, U. Mass, what do you expect. I’m sure it is the same at all schools. Are there empty seats for ND, Auburn, Tennessee, etc.? Now that it is easier than ever to see a game from home, why would you drive several hours, fight for parking, pay for tickets, and fight for restrooms and concessions to watch a cupcake beatdown. You put Clemson, FSU, ND, or the like in place of the cupcake, then all those inconveniences don’t seem so inconvenient all of a sudden.

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  6. Beer Money

    I know it says that they are holding firm or cutting prices, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that rapidly accelerating face value ticket prices over the last 5-10 years (unnecessarily, mind you) is a huge part of what got them, and all of CFB, into this mess to begin with. All these schools see what the handful of tickets sell for for certain games under certain circumstances on Stubhub, and think “hey, we could just charge that amount up front for every game regardless of whether the demand is there or not.” It doesn’t work that way.

    Almost every program in college football is guilty of this tactic. And it is completely inexcusable given what TV contracts pay today. Play the short game and continue to watch people leave. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

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  7. Aladawg

    You said it all in the last paragraph Senator. There is little incentive to fill the seats other than potentially loses peanuts income in comparison to TV money. McGoofy probably feels the expenses of cleaning up after games offsets any need to fill seats…………….

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  8. Go Dawgs!

    Mizzou is facing the same challenges that every other program is facing, and they’ve also got some unique challenges of their own. It’s got to be tough when you’re not playing a single game that your fan base has cared about prior to 2012. Has Missouri even developed any real rivalries in the SEC since they’ve been here? The media and marketing departments seemed to try to pump up Georgia for them, and we’ve had some good games I guess but they’ve only beaten Georgia once and I have never really detected any bad feelings there. Do they hate anyone? Tennessee maybe?

    Also, they’ve had some decidedly unpleasant interactions between the social strife on the campus and in the state with the athletic program and I think that’s hurt their sports programs and also the university itself. When you throw in a football program that is less competitive the past few years, a lack of any real rivalries that the fans feel passionate about, some spidery political stuff… yeah, I bet it’s tough to get folks to show up. That’s a challenge for the AD.

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    • Russ

      Agreed. They have zero history with the SEC, so there are no rivalry games for the fans to look forward to. It’s like if we moved to the Big East. It would suck.

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    • They’ve been trying to build their Thanksgiving game with Arkansas into the “Borderline Rivalry.” With Arkansas sucking so bad, that may take some time to get off the ground, but it’s not a horrible concept and could gain traction in the years to come.

      I feel like they should have incorporated more of an Ozarks theme into that trophy though, rather than seemingly duplicate the Battle of the Boot trophy (Ark-LSU) that is simply an outline of the states.

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  9. W Cobb Dawg

    Didn’t mizzou just expand the stadium?

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    • Bulldog Joe

      Mizzou took down the south end zone stands to build a Taj Mahal for recruiting and the big donors, like GT did. They’ll have less capacity overall.

      Eventually, the big donors grow old and don’t attend the games. If you priced the next generation out, there is no loyalty to replace them.

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  10. Bright Idea

    I’ve been to Mizzou every time UGA has played there. I sense that football does not strike their fancy, especially at 11am. Declining attendance is not limited to Mizzou and college football for lots of reasons, but folks just can’t sit still and pay attention for 4 hours like they used to appears to be the main one. Why pay for a ticket to arrive in the middle of the 2nd qtr., stare at your phone for an hour and leave at the end of the 3rd when you can do that at home or at the tailgate for free?

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    • Bulldog Joe

      Mizzou has a weird vibe. Iowa is also in the middle of nowhere, has worse weather and a mediocre team often playing 11:00am games, but they have a great gameday atmosphere because the tickets are cheap, the parking is free, and the fans can tailgate with little to no restriction. Trash cans and law enforcement are easy to find if you need them. They also run shuttles from the downtown bars and their largest shopping mall.

      The money gap is made up on a larger stadium concession and merchandise haul, because nearly everyone wants to be there. It’s not hard to figure out.

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  11. This is, just as Go Dawgs says , a multi-faceted problem but to discount the fact that black players on the team went on strike in 2015 until the president of the university was fired or resigned as a major part of this problem is naive. Columbia is in the middle of the state and significant drive from the major population centers so going to a game there is a major time commitment that a 95% white alumni base(that is a wild ass guess) just is isn’t going to make if they perceive the game is getting politicized.I don’t think that incident can or should be minimized. Having the tail wag the dog, as occurred in this incident caused a lot of people/fans to vote with their feet and just not go the next year. Once you get out of a habit of going it’s just gone. The school enrollment went down after this incident as did game attendance so I don’t think that factor can be minimized. (If this opinion belonged in the playpen I apologize) Mizzou compared to UGA or other SEC schools is just a different set of factors.

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