UH seeking student bodies
By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Ferd Lewis
With students composing only an estimated 3 to 6 percent of its Aloha Stadium crowds, the University of Hawai'i plans to aggressively market football to its student body this year, officials said.
School officials said they are looking into the possibility of showing the Warriors' Sept. 2 season opener at Alabama at a campus location and will designate the Sept. 16 home opener against Nevada-Las Vegas as "student night," with various promotions in the planning.
In addition, UH will resume running free so-called "spirit buses" from campus to transport students to Aloha Stadium.
"We've been moving in a positive direction and we want us to continue to take a more aggressive approach on this," said John McNamara, UH associate athletic director. "We want to offer more incentives to the student body to become involved."
The push for increased student attendance comes as UH attempts to win back fans in general. Overall season-ticket renewals have dropped 11.6 percent from last year, the second-largest decline in the past five years.
McNamara said all 3,000 dormitory residents will receive schedule cards and other information in welcome packets next month. Moreover a table at Campus Center will be set up the first week of school to pass out posters and information, and e-mail and notices will be sent out.
"Definitely, that's a start," said Grant Teichman, UH student body president. "I think a lot of people want to support their school and having the information and means to get there (Aloha Stadium) will help."
Teichman said student government will also look at some of its own solutions to what he termed the "enigma" of why UH hasn't had more students in the stands.
UH has an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 11,000 and it sets aside 5,116 seats for students (including the band) at Aloha Stadium — many of them in the area from the 15-yard line on the mauka side to the north end zone, according to ticket office officials. The same officials have estimated the student turnout at between 3 and 6 percent last year, depending upon the game.
Student season-ticket purchases totaled 703 last season, including 575 in the Manoa Maniacs rooter section. Maniac numbers were up from 514 in the 2004 debut. Season tickets had averaged about 100 prior to 2004, UH said.
Two of the better drawing schools in the nine-member Western Athletic Conference, Boise State and Fresno State, have much larger student followings.
At Boise State, a spokesman said approximately 18 percent of the 30,000 seats are held for students, who pay an athletic fee as part of their registration. "Approximately 90 percent of those are picked up for each home game," said Max Corbet, sports information director.
At 41,031-seat Bulldog Stadium, the Fresno State student section seats 4,000 and "is generally at capacity for each game," according to Steve Weakland, sports information director. FSU students pay $65 for a football season ticket.
UH offers student season tickets for $77 and its Manoa Maniacs season package for $30. In addition, UH offers its students an all-sports pass for $35, good for admission to eight events from among football, women's volleyball, men's basketball, men's volleyball and baseball.
Teichman said he would like to see students be allowed into games for free once the game has started.
Beyond the 2006 season, the athletic department would also like to win student support for a plan whereby students would pay $50 a semester in exchange for free admission to sports events.
The plan, passed by the Senate of the Associated Students of the University of Hawai'i in April, must still go to a public hearing before it can be presented to the UH Board of Regents for approval. The plan, as proposed, would be voluntary. Even with approval, UH officials have said it is unlikely that could get off the ground before 2007.
Reach Ferd Lewis at email@example.com.