MAD-Pack aims to increase student attendance

BY JESSIE SMITH | APRIL 05, 2010 7:30 AM

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The Iowa athletics department wants men’s basketball fans to “be mad again.”

Between the hiring of new men’s head basketball coach Fran McCaffery and Iowa’s current four-season NCAA Tournament drought, marketing officials stepped forward with its new campaign to encourage the public to attend games next season.

But in order to receive a free MAD-Pack, students must place their orders for 2010 football tickets and 2010-11 men’s basketball tickets by May 7. The pack includes a “Let’s Be Mad Again” T-shirt, key chain, window decal, mouse pad, and a special bonus that will be handed out when buyers pick up their tickets.

The UI has launched similar ticket-sales incentives, such as the Lunch Box program, which took place prior to the 2009-10 academic year.

Associate Athletics Director Rick Klatt said last year’s Lunch Box program was a success with the number of joint basketball and football season-ticket packages totaling just fewer than 1,000 orders.

But despite a 43 percent increase in student season-ticket purchases from the 2008-09 season to this past season, Klatt said the problem lies in the actual number of students who follow through and use their tickets.

“[The Lunch-Box program] accomplished what we wanted it to do by getting people to commit to both [football and basketball] with the purchase of tickets,” he said. “There is the purchase [of the tickets]. Then, there’s the activation and actually coming to the events, and we didn’t have attendance at the men’s basketball events.”

In addition to the array of Hawkeye gear linked with the new “Let’s be mad again” campaign, the program goes a step further by offering a multimedia aspect that gives fans the chance to get to know McCaffery.

“The idea behind this is to capitalize the excitement of the hiring of Coach McCaffery and to give fans who are excited about that opportunity an opportunity to rally around the program and help promote the program,” Klatt said. “[The incentive] also gives us a chance to get other fans excited about the future of Iowa basketball.”

Iowa basketball fans, such as UI sophomore Kyle Tevebaugh, also noted the lack of motivation to attend men’s basketball games during the final year of the Todd Lickliter era.

“I went to about three games because they were free,” he said. “I knew we weren’t a really good team, so there wasn’t any excitement like there was in football. I don’t really want to pay for something that’s not exciting.”

Coming to Iowa City fresh off a NCAA Tournament berth at Siena, McCaffery predicts his up-tempo style of play will appeal to his players and Hawkeye fans alike.

“We’re going to play the game the right way,” McCaffery said on March 29 when he was named Iowa’s 22nd men’s basketball coach. “I’m going to coach with passion, but our players are going to have fun. They’re going to enjoy what they do on the floor. And this place is going to be rocking again.”

Klatt said the athletics department is working make Carver Hawkeye-Arena a fun place to be for students when game-day rolls around next season.

“We just have to get that whole experience going again,” Klatt said. “But we also argue that a good chunk of that is driven by what happens on the floor, and Fran openly accepts that responsibility. He has to do what is necessary to get whether it be a student, faculty or staff, member off their couch and into the arena.”

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