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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, November 22, 2002

UH football attendance down

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer

The University of Hawai'i football team is home through Christmas, but the big question over these final four games is where will the Warriors' fans be?


(Average number of tickets distributed after first five games at Aloha Stadium each season)
Season Distributed Turnstile

1999 37,501 34,624

2000 38,130 34,546

2001 37,809 34,709

2002 37,310 34,440

Source: UH

In front of the television set — at home or at a commercial establishment — or in the stands at Aloha Stadium?

Ticket numbers point to slightly fewer fans getting tickets for the Warriors' home games than the same point in three previous season under June Jones. Even in the Warriors' 3-9 season of 2000, more tickets were distributed through the first five Aloha Stadium games than at the same point this season.

While the introduction of pay-per-view television this season is largely responsible, the numbers so far have the coach and UH officials concerned.

With a team that has been building up a five-game winning streak; is on the way to a bowl and has had the No. 1-ranked passing game in Division I-A, the expectation was that UH might prosper both at the stadium box office and via pay-per-view.

Indeed, part of the attraction is supposed to be that it would allow UH to tap into fans who couldn't go to the game while retaining those who normally go to the Aloha Stadium.

Jones, blaming the low price option of pay-per-view television, says small turnouts don't help the team. UH officials, too, are concerned about missing out on ticket revenue at a time when the school is coming off a $1.5 million budget deficit.

In a radio interview, Jones has said: "I'm a sports nut, too, and I'm not sure I would fight some of those things people have to fight to go to the game. I might just stay home, pay $12.95, too, and watch it on TV."

Added Jones: "I really believe if we didn't have pay-per-view, we would have had 45,000 at the San Jose State game."

UH announced 36,794 tickets distributed for that game although the actual number of fans in Aloha Stadium was 33,922, according to UH.

Athletic director Herman Frazier says he, too, thinks the pay-per-view plan may require alteration. He said he also has heard from fans complaining about a scarcity of parking, bag searches at Aloha Stadium and inferior opponents. UH also has raised its fee on premium seat locations from $25 to $50 in prime seats.

Frazier said he wants to see how the numbers stack up down the stretch.

According to numbers announced by the athletic department, an average of 37,310 tickets have been distributed through the Warriors five home games to date and turnstile attendance has averaged 34,440.

Keep in mind, however, that tickets distributed can also includes hundreds of complimentary tickets given out. They are counted whether used or not.

To offset a drop from $1.3 million to $700,000 in TV rights fees from its contract with K5, UH this summer introduced pay-per-view sales. For less than the cost of one adult ticket, a whole family on O'ahu can watch the game from home.

For $12.95 per game or $75 for a season ticket, O'ahu viewers can order the game on cable. Neighbor Island customers are charged $5 per game and $24 for the season while businesses pay a fee based upon their capacities.

Through the first five home games, UH is due to receive approximately $385,000 as its share of the deal with K5 and Oceanic, the school said.

UH officials said they hope the entire seven-game home package (Alabama is shown live on ESPN) will bring in nearly $600,000 coming close to offsetting the drop in rights payments.

"The numbers have been very good on pay-per-view and that is helping pick up for some of the loss in TV revenue that we have this year, but at the same time its not benefitting us at the stadium or from a team standpoint," Jones said.

"Pay-per-view has hurt us at the gate to be quite honest," Jones said. "We should have charged more for it. It is adjustable. Live and learn. But we need our fans to help us win games and we need people in the stadium for our bottom line. That's what we need."

Frazier said: "The barometer for me will be not Alabama but Cincinnati and San Diego (State). Alabama is a given (about 400 tickets remain unsold). But Cincinnati and San Diego? It will be very interesting to see what kind of crowds we get then. Then, I think we can better assess where we go on a number of issues.

"I think there are a couple of factors. Pay-per-view has been part of it. Some people just make the decision to stay home. I think the pricing has been very, very reasonable on what they are paying and what the commercial establishments are paying. But I also get letters from people who complain about the parking being (difficult) and about 'Gestapo-like' (treatment) trying to get through the gates and so forth. And, we have to figure out a way to deal with it."

In addition, none of the Division I-A opponents the Warriors have so far played at home — Southern Methodist, Nevada, Tulsa and San Jose State — had a winning record when playing here. Another, Eastern Illinois, is Division I-AA.

Said Jones: "I hope we get 45,000-50,000 for the next (four) games."