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Student ticket sales slump

BY CHRIS HIGGINS | AUGUST 25, 2014 5:00 AM

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Even a chance at free tuition will not fill Kinnick Stadium with students this year.

Ticket sales for Hawkeye football games have lagged over the past two years, so officials stepped in with an incentive program to solve the problem: a raffle.

“The raffle did provide a nice boost in sales as the deadline approached,” said Rick Klatt, the UI associate athletics director for external relations.

Athletics officials tried to drum up more interest by offering free tuition for a year by entering students who bought season tickets into a raffle for a year of tuition, free textbooks, or gift cards.

Tuition winners will be notified today or Tuesday once questions from the Financial Aid Office are sorted out, Klatt said in an e-mail. Winners of other prizes were notified Aug. 22 but their names were not announced publicly.

Senior Ellie Sharp, who won $500 worth of free textbooks, buys season tickets every year.

Sharp said she has less financial pressure now, and she is glad the university took steps to try to get students more involved in athletics.

“When I bought the tickets, I had no idea there was going to be a raffle,” she said. “That makes winning it feel even better.”

Despite the promotion, the Athletics Department sold approximately 6,400 student tickets for the upcoming football season before the deadline earlier this month, down from 7,300 last year.

In the past, all 10,000 tickets reserved for students have sold out. The UI’s troubles echo those of football programs across the Big Ten, with universities failing to sell tickets or to attract students to attend once tickets are purchased.

After the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals questioned the drawing’s legality, it was revised, and students were able to enter for free.

Around 600 students took the opportunity to participate without charge.

Remaining tickets are now on sale to the general public at a higher price, and students wishing to buy season tickets will be placed on a waiting list.

Klatt listed results of a survey taken last year on why interest in season tickets has declined; students surveyed said they can instead buy tickets individually, tickets are too expensive, or they are too busy to attend the games.

As the Hawkeyes have experienced less competitive success, students and officials have noted a less enthusiastic atmosphere in Kinnick since last year.

Even Athletics Director Gary Barta told reporters last month the stadium environment “started to lose some momentum in our student section and among our fan base.”

However, some UI students say the atmosphere is just fine.

“I don’t know why anybody would not want to go to the games,” said UI sophomore Connor Bauer.

UI sophomore Karli Seipel said some students may even be put off by an overly enthusiastic atmosphere, referencing the Vodka Samm incident a year ago and students who act “ridiculous.”

“Maybe they don’t want to participate in the culture that it brings with it, like the alcohol culture and the stuff that comes after the games,” she said.


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