Last week I wrote about the issue of Pac-12 men’s basketball attendance and whether it’s suffering because of TV. Six schools are up, six down in a year when the conference race is much more interesting than a year ago, and I sounded the alarm about some warning signs that TV may be affecting future crowds.
If I concentrated too much on how dates and times might be affecting crowds, that was an oversight. The other issue, just as important, is whether the simple saturation of games — the fact every Pac-12 game is now available on some medium — could be affecting attendance. On one hand, it’s nice to have those games televised. But if it dilutes the live product, that’s a problem.
Apparently, I wasn’t alone in the concern. I got a handful of long e-mails expressing dissatisfaction with the inconvenience to fans, a couple of which I’m sharing here. I’m not contending these are the views of the masses, but the detail of their concern is striking, and schools need to hope they’re not reflective of a lot more people.
In part, Robert D. Frazier wrote, “This has been a topic of much conversation in our house recently. I am a long-time season ticket holder and Tyee contributor at UW. We have decided they have about pushed us as far as they can. My contribution for two tickets is $1,100 a seat plus the cost of the season ticket so we are out, give or take, $3,000 for two season tickets.
“The reality is, given the pre-season schedule, there are less than 10 games a year I really care about seeing. Couple that with the fact that I leave my house to go to work before 5:30 a.m., a game that starts after 7 becomes problematic and an 8:30 or 9 start is not doable. Thus, this is probably my last year as a season ticket-holder. We will find 4-5 games we want to see and buy tickets.
“You could say the same thing about football. The cost is a little more reasonable and there are only 6-7 games a year. Still, I contribute $475 a seat for 6 tickets plus the cost of the tickets so again it is over $3,000 for the season . . . I am now told I have the right to buy a season parking pass. As you know, football is very difficult to plan for as you often don’t know whether the game will be at 12:30 or 7:30 until a week or two before the game. Therefore you can’t plan on doing anything on game days, you have to leave the whole day open. If we lived in Tacoma or Olympia this would be a non-starter.”
Tom in Sammamish chimed in with this e-mail, in part:
“I have both Husky basketball and football
season tickets. I would be considered by most to be the type of guy who put
the fan in fanatic when it comes to UW sports. But what they, Larry Scott
and the Pac-12 athletic directors are doing now is a decision that
completely disregards the people who are their most loyal and ardent
supporters. That would be those who give up their time and money to go
to the games.
“The whole experience is shamelessly now about squeezing every nickel
possible from the fans while making scheduling decisions that are entirely
driven by time slots given to the university by the networks. I get the fact
that they need the money. So do I, by the way. What I am talking about is
reasonable consideration and appreciation to the season ticket base that
makes up the home court advantage that is critical to the success of the
Tom said he targeted two pre-conference games this year — Colorado State and Saint Louis. For the first one on Thanksgiving weekend, he got docked the usual $10 for parking despite the deserted campus. The late start for the second turned him off for that game.
“The tipoff was thoughtfully scheduled for
9 p.m.,” he wrote. “Now for those of us who work for a living that means getting home
at midnight on a week night . . . that
means I still have to get out of bed at 6 and go to work the next morning.
Now who does this scenario favor? You know the answer — the guy who sits at
home. So I am going to. This is the last year I am going to be used and
abused like this. Football is fewer games and nearly all of them on a
weekend. But for basketball, they have lost me . . I
can sit in my house and let the TV money pour into the university because
that is clearly what matters here. That and getting the fan who makes the
atmosphere they covet pay as much as possible for the right to attend games.
It’s too slanted in the other direction. I give up.”