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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, September 14, 2006

Warrior football not filling the seats

Why are sales slow for UH football tickets this season? Join our forum and share your thoughts.
 •  No Aloha, no fans for UH opener

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer

Season-ticket sales for University of Hawai'i football are the lowest they've been in nearly 25 years and, barring heavy walk-up purchases, attendance for the Warriors' home opener Saturday might be the lowest in almost 30 years.

Aloha Stadium officials forecast a crowd "in the high 20,000s" for the 6:05 p.m. game with UNLV, spokesman Patrick Leonard said yesterday.

As of yesterday afternoon, about 21,500 tickets had been sold, Leonard said. He said a large walk-up sale of 5,000 to 6,000 was expected on game day.

UH hasn't drawn fewer than 31,500 fans for a home opener at Aloha Stadium since 1977, when 26,532 showed up for the game against New Mexico. It was the second smallest home-opener crowd in Aloha Stadium's 31-year history.

Meanwhile, UH season-ticket sales are expected to finish under 20,000 for the first time in a quarter-century, and pay-per-view sales have dropped.

As of Tuesday, UH said it had sold 17,800 season tickets, down from 20,360 last year and 5,136 below 2004. Season tickets remain on sale, UH officials said.

SALES PEAK IN '91

Season-ticket sales reached their peak at approximately 32,500 in 1991, according to UH.

But their decline has sharpened since the introduction of pay-per-view telecasts in 2002 and premium seating in 2004. Pay-per-view is a system whereby fans can watch live telecasts for a fee. KFVE pays UH $1.75 million for exclusive rights to televise its sporting events.

Premium seating is a charge on top of the face value of the ticket for securing seats in prime locations. More than half the seats for UH games at 50,000-seat Aloha Stadium carry a premium charge for season tickets.

"Whether it is finances, schedules, shifting priorities, etc., there are many factors involved in season-ticket sales," UH athletic director Herman Frazier said in a statement. "We strive to put competitive and exciting teams on the field that our fans can be proud of."

UH head coach June Jones declined comment other than to say the numbers speak for themselves.

AD BLITZ

The decline in season-ticket sales comes despite a doubling of resources in the school's promotional campaign. This year officials said they allocated $200,000 worth of print, radio and television advertising to push the Warriors' "There's Nothin' Like Being There" campaign that began in June.

In addition, UH offered season-ticket purchasers an additional game the Sept. 30 Eastern Illinois game without charge as an inducement to renew, but returns declined 11.6 percent in the renewal period. One reason cited was a less-attractive schedule. The 2005 schedule featured then-defending national champion Southern California and conference rivals Boise State and Fresno State.

TV SALES ALSO DOWN

Pay-per-view sales also are dropping for a third consecutive year, according to John Fink, vice president and general manager of KFVE, which is a partner of Oceanic Time Warner Cable and UH in the enterprise.

Fink said sales of pay-per-view season packages are down at least 10 percent. "In terms of the number of people (buying), it is down, but the pay-per-view revenues will be higher than last year," Fink said.

The price of a 15-event season package this year rose by an average of $6.67 per game for new subscribers on O'ahu and $4.42 for renewals.

"We realize the price has gone up (but) we believe the value has gone up," Fink said. "We do not have as many people buying pay per view as we had in 2005 and 2004."

VOLLEYBALL SALES DIP

Revenue reached an all-time high last year at $1.55 million despite a decline in sales. Sales in 2005 were 7,809 compared with 8,997 in 2004. By contract, KFVE received approximately $922,500 as its share of the revenue while its partners, Oceanic and UH, received $562,500 and $65,000, respectively. UH's amount was in addition to its $1.75 million.

Meanwhile, season-ticket sales for Rainbow Wahine volleyball also dropped. UH said it sold 4,306 this year, down 300 from last year. However, 2005 marked an increase of 507 over 2004.

Frazier said, "the consistent success of our women's volleyball program has helped create a solid fan base. We're fortunate that Hawai'i volleyball fans are the most loyal and knowledgeable in the country."

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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