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Football ticket incentive programs to continue

BY KAITLIN DEWULF | DECEMBER 10, 2014 5:00 AM

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As the University of Iowa football season winds down, with only a bowl game left on the schedule, officials seek to continue improving ticket sales.

The Athletics Department is in the preliminary stages of discussions over programs to further increase football-ticket sales in 2015.

To help encourage students to attend football games this past season, the department used incentives for student-tickets sales.

The Athletics Department introduced an incentive program aimed at boosting lagging football-ticket sales in July, but that was suspended after the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals posed questions of its legality and logistics to university officials.

“I believe our efforts were worthwhile,” Associate Athletics Direcgtor Rick Klatt said. “And we will continue to work to reach sellout status for all home games of the football team next and in the years to follow.”

He said the average student attendance at football games increased slightly this season despite having several visiting teams selling a meager number of their allotted 3,000 tickets.

Among other Big Ten schools, the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign is also considering an incentive program to drive up student ticket sales.

Brad Wurthman, the Illinois associate athletics director for marketing and fan developments, said that historically, the department has stressed the importance of student turnout for athletics, and especially its football team.

“We want to make sure that students understand how important it is to buy tickets and support their athletics teams,” Wurthman said. “And we want to reward them for doing so.”

He said Fighting Illini officials will establish a robust incentive program, but the department is not sure what will work best yet.

“[The department] is going through and benchmarking other programs across the country and seeing what works and for whom to help us decide what will be most effective,” Wurtham said.

Northwestern does not have to consider a ticket-sales incentive program.

“We have not incentivized ticket sales for the students,” said Paul Kennedy, the director of communications for Northwestern athletics. “The students do not pay for tickets at Northwestern athletics events.”

The University of Wisconsin-Madison also does not have a ticket incentive program and does not plan to in the future.

Justin Doherty, an associate athletics director at Wisconsin, said the department is satisfied and appreciative of the student interest it receives in buying football tickets and does not feel an incentive program is necessary.

Doherty said it was a typical year for student turnout and a highly successful one.

“Student football tickets usually completely sell out in less than two hours,” he said.

For the UI, the Athletics Department is going to continue to strive for sellout status for football games through strategies such as the incentive program this year.

“Our expectation every year is improvement,” Klatt said. “So my answer today is yes: I expect a higher turnout next year.”


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