Dip in football ticket sales has BSU’s attention

Coyle from game in Seattle:‘It’s definitely a concern.’

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.com © 2013 Idaho StatesmanSeptember 1, 2013 

SEATTLE — Considering a good chunk of his athletic department’s $36 million budget comes from football ticket sales, a drop in the amount of season tickets sold has Athletic Director Mark Coyle feeling concerned.

Sales had increased over the previous three seasons, but are expected to be behind last season’s 24,109 total this year.

“It’s definitely a concern, and it’s something we need to take a look at,” Coyle said Saturday, a week before the Broncos’ home opener against Tennessee-Martin.

Some of the decline is due to a nonconference home schedule that includes UT-Martin (FCS team) and Southern Miss (0-12 last year). While Coyle did not rule out playing an FCS team again, strength of schedule matters in the new College Football Playoff, which begins next season.

“There’s been a scheduling philosophy under Chris Petersen that’s been very successful, and we want to stick to that, but at the same time, it’s a competitive market, and we know getting those marquee teams will help ticket sales, too,” Coyle said.

Boise State has lined up future home-and-home series with Connecticut, Oklahoma State, Florida State and Virginia, and will have a visit from Washington in 2015.

Coyle said he “welcomes” the idea of playing a high-level opponent to open the season, like Saturday’s opener and next year’s game against Ole Miss in Atlanta.

“For us to be in the national spotlight right away, that is big, and certainly gets people’s attention,” Coyle said.

Stressing a strong game-day experience regardless of the opponent, Coyle said he wants to reward season ticket holders — noting the new priority points system that allow first chance at road game tickets, bowl tickets and other benefits. He also wants those who go for single games to come out more often, pointing to Bronco Stadium’s upgrades, including the $22 million football facility, a sound system and a 59-by-37-foot video board.

“The team already plays at a high level, but you want a first-class experience with what the stadium can provide to get those folks on the fringe out to the games,” Coyle said.

Coyle said the new video board, which is about five times larger than the one that has been in place since 2001, is ahead of schedule. Crews worked on it this weekend and will into next week to get it done as quickly as possible.

To remedy the drop in ticket sales, Coyle said he’ll analyze the pricing structure this offseason, but also noted that the cheapest tickets are the ones selling least, going back to a need to improve the game-day experience.

“In the past, we’ve been aggressive in increasing ticket prices, but I don’t think that’s the answer,” he said.

In Coyle’s year and a half on the job, he’s seen the football facility go up, along with an improved and expanded Bronco Stadium, plus will have a new grass football practice field in place next year — in addition to luring ticket buyers, there are others he hopes to bring in with those improvements.

“It all goes back to recruiting, hopefully they see that and see we’re committed to pushing that needle,” Coyle said. “… when I started, I was told to keep my foot on the gas, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

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