Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N
Hello fellow Bruins. This will be my first fanshot, and my second overall post here, so excuse me if this post is too long, too forward, or too ill-constructed. I've been reading Bruins Nation for awhile now, and just joined several days ago. I'm a fifth year student graduating this winter. Now you know about me. So I'm going to try and just attack every problem with student attendance-football and basketball-how I see fit. I've been kicking around a lot of ideas and drinking way too many beers this weekend but I'm gonna give this a shot. I made a big 4 page outline for this, and I don't even do that for actual graded papers, so take that for what its worth. So as I should be studying, I give you this.
Anyways, just to break this up, I will have a section with thoughts about football and thoughts about basketball. Now far be it from me to actually be correct about this stuff, but these are just based off some of the experiences I have had and some of the frustrations that go with it, as well as some general opinion mixed in.
Less than desired attendance at UCLA Home Football and Basketball Games
Some of the possible reasons for poor attendance:
The football season starts the in late August and early September. The students don't arrive to school until late September. Therefore, a vast majority of students don't even have the opportunity to attend the first home game, and often the second. (The last two years, the second home game has taken place during move in weekend. Some of the more enterprising new students, or 2nd year dorm students may make the effort to get out to the Rose Bowl, but I am not going to pretend the attitude of the majority of these students is to get out to see the game above all else)
This can lead to situations where students may not feel as involved or intensely supportive of the football team, especially if the first few games go poorly. If they see UCLA getting a beatdown 59-0, it just may create a more ambivalent attitude toward the football season. Getting to be at those first few games is important. You start to create weird unreciprocated bonds with players who dominate early (RAHIM!!). On that note, its probably a little disheartening to come out for the home opener as a player and see a big gray mass of unfilled concrete and bleacher in the student section.
I doubt we have the power to alter the academic calendar, so the best that can be done is have the football team make extra efforts to schedule two early away games. If students are missing two games a year by default it definitely makes the student-fan experience more casual. There isn't much else we can do with this situation. Just hopefully as the team improves, we can be in national consciousness early on in the season, which would should excite the newcomers.
Another issue, and I've read discussions about it here before, is the hassle of getting to the Rose Bowl. There shouldn't be any excuse week to week getting out there, but even so, I don't think UCLA does a great job of advertising, or getting students out to the games. For having a stadium in Pasadena, this administration should be tripping over themselves, and doing just about everything but having Gene Block or the great Charles E. Young personally escort students to the RB.
I have never taken a UCLA sponsored bus out there, but I would hope these things are rocking parties. My greatest fear has always been getting on a bus that is literally only a bus to the game. I've been fine getting to the game through various means, but I could see how a group of friends could easily get discouraged if they do not have a car, or greek, and cannot or did not get bus tickets by the Thursday deadline. Obviously, as dedicated fans, efforts for the next trip or tailgate to the Rose Bowl are made almost as soon as we get home from the game just played, but fans that are not quite hardcore, could easily be turned off trying to get out there.
On this note, parking at the rose bowl is expensive. 15 bucks is no small amount. I've had situations occur where a ride falls through, or something gets screwed up, and I'm working the phones, and it still doesn't come through, so I have to take myself, or maybe myself and one other. 15 bucks cash ain't easy. Then there is gas, beer, and subway $ 5 footlong money if the tailgate option isn't on and suddenly you're looking at close to fifty bucks.
This is why I would like to see UCLA at least offer the option for students to have their tickets subsidized by 15 dollars less, or allow students to simply add in the cost of parking to their season ticket total. Hell, you could probably do it so people only have to 5-10 dollars per game and probably make money. Then you just give them parking passes with the tickets and you're golden. This makes the potential for unforseen expenses like parking less of a problem. Obviously, this won't bring out 500 more fans, but like I said before, UCLA should be doing EVERYTHING they can to make the trip to the Rose Bowl as easy as possible.
The most important element for attendance is simply going to be winning. I hate to say it, but most people are bandwagon fans. Its sad but true. Most people, (me excluded as a lifelong chiefs/royals diehard), just don't commit the time/money/effort/emotion into rooting for a losing team, or even a mediocre one. Its true almost everywhere. We just don't have, but hopefully do someday, a historically great football program like Notre Dame or Michigan or Penn St where football is king. It takes decades of constant excellence to solidify that. It has to almost become a generational thing. This isn't impossible to instill, we're only 10 years into a new century, so we have 90 years to go to be the college football powerhouse of the 21st century. I wish we had a rare program that people we show up for come hell or high water, but at this point we do not.
Even USC suffers from the bandwagon problem, just look at their record from 98-03 (98 was the earliest attendance data I could find) and the resulting attendance. Between 98-01 they went 7-5, 6-6, 5-7, 6-6, and averaged around 57,000 per game. An 11 win season in 02 boosted attendance by 9k a game, and 12 wins in 03 resulted in another 11k per game. Would be interesting to see the number of students as a percent of the crowd, but I don't think that data exists. Basically, people are bandwagon jumping sheep. Its a pain in the ass, but I guess thats life.
Thats about all I have for football, now I'm going to move to basketball, and a little more technical problem solving, but please, point out any flaws, errors, crazy assumptions, or if you just hate it.
The first assumption we have to make in tackling basketball attendance is if there is a high enough demand from game to game among students that they would attend at some reasonable price. Basically, on any given night can we fill Pauley Pavilion on sheer interest in going to a basketball game? If there simply are too many students that would rather be doing something else then the following is irrelevant. I do believe however that there is plenty of demand to fill Pauley for at the very least the KU game, and at least every conference game. This leads me to believe there is an inefficiency in getting tickets to those who are willing to pay to go see the Bruins at PP.
Many have suggested some form of a ticket transfer system in order for people to give their tickets away to others. There are several problems with this, first unless UCLA "taxes" or puts a surcharge on transfers, they would be unlikely to allow it because of potential lost revenue from standby tickets. Second, the ticket transfer system assumes that Bruin X who cannot go to the game knows a specific Bruin Y who wants that ticket and would like the transfer. It does nothing to solve the problem of Bruin Z who wants to go the game, but does not know anyone willing or able to transfer their ticket.
At the very least though, this system would be an improvement upon not transferring any tickets. I have never tried the standby tickets, so if anyone can fill me in on how many people are usually waiting or how many people actually get the tickets that would be great.
My preference in the great ticket controversy would be to set up a sort of ticket "buyback" system. It seems to make sense to me, but if it doesn't let me know and I'll just drift to the back of the room and we will forget about all of this.
My first thought is that tickets should not be free, if we continue the earlier assumption that there is enough insufficiently allocated demand, there should be some price point at which we could have an at capacity student section. I understand it may be hard for some to afford tickets, but season tickets should be a financial investment. Not something you do and go when you feel like it.
My "solution" buyback program would go a little something like this: (and if it doesn't make sense or is just awful, remember I am going off mostly secondhand knowledge as this is my first season at UCLA getting bball tix.
It would involve creating a priority system where anyone with season tickets to a game can wait in a "priority" line for a wristband (never underestimate how much people love wearing those damn stupid wristbands, no joke, you might see someone with 20 wristbands if this system goes down). This would work just like normal campouts, you hang out there for a couple days, do your thing, and then around 4-5 hours before game time they hand out the special priority bracelets with numbers corresponding to your spot in line. You just have to limit how many of these you can give out to eliminate line snipers. Allow these people to get in the game and hour and a half early and let them in in limited groups according to their number, kinda like how Southwest does their boarding procedure. Boom, perfect, you just took care of the hardcore fans.
The next group, the normal priority group, have to come and pick up their bracelets any time from CTO. They get to do it anytime its open, but they get lesser priority. Its only one more step in going to a game, and if you want to go to the game, but not wait in line, you get second priority. Let these folks in about 45 minutes before game time.
This next step is where the buyback comes into play. This would require anyone without tickets to the game they want to go to to sign up online in the same time frame as the previous two. So at the cutoff time (4-5 hours before gametime) all the season ticket holders who did not pickup bracelets have their tickets released. However, these season ticket holders also have the option of selling their ticket back to UCLA. By reselling it, they could pick up a little money and allow someone else to go to the game.
The most major problem under this system is how to deal with UCLA overselling games. I guess you would have to limit the resale to a certain number allowed.
Then, maybe a few hours before gametime, a lottery is held if there are more students wanting to go than tickets available, or tickets are just sold if they are more tickets than students. The logistics of how many tickets sold and how many should be made available would be important after overselling, but for right now, assume that we are only dealing with exactly the amount of tickets available for the exact number of seats.
I think it would be the coolest thing ever to be hanging out pregaming or something with some buddies, and one is waiting on a ticket lottery email. You can't tell me if that email came in and it said "congrats, you won tonights ticket lottery" and another buddy got to go, it wouldn't bring the house down. That would make my damn night. The winners of these lotteries will be allowed in maybe 15/20 minutes before game time.
I have a little Pro/Con list for this, and I'm getting pretty tired, so this might be more sloppy. I'll try and edit later.
*would give students option of getting a little money back for their unused tickets.
*would give ucla opportunity to resell tickets in a more efficient manner
*would make getting tickets for non season ticket holders much easier (simple log on to ucla and sign up, couldn't take more than 30 seconds right?) I would have killed for the chance to go to few games my first couple years.
*Increases efficiency in distribution of tickets to students who want to be at the game
*still allows diehard fans to camp out for the priority bracelet.
*picking up a regular bracelet is simple, if you want to go to the game, how hard would it be to snag a bracelet the day before a game and head back to your dorm/apt/place of living?
*Would be cool to have some tangible way of remembering games, would be neat to have a collection of colored UCLA wristbands, maybe print them with date and opponent. Right now students have no way to hold on to something and say " I was there".I love keeping all my sporting stubs. Ticket stubs are cool. Especially for memorable games.
*Allow more access for non season ticket holders to get to some games
*Rough draw plan, would be hard sell, would the cost of implementing it be worth it to UCLA?
*bracelet intensive plan. Shouldn't be THAT expensive right?
*would create an additional step for anyone wanting to go to game beyond just showing up
*If ucla is worried about "black market" there could potentially be one for bracelets.
*Could be hard to implement if demand for tickets keeps falling
*How do you offer buyback? Do you risk having a fixed price for each game? Do you offer different games at different prices ( I assume you would have to offer more in a buyback for a KU ticket as opposed to csu wherever) Do you just take whatever you made back in day of lottery sales, rake half and split the other half with the buyback people or what? Questions that must be answered.
Also, buyback must be limited in someway, especially if the current policy to oversell games remains intact.
If however, the problem isn't the inefficient distribution, then it needs to be addressed at a higher level. Indoctrinate these kids when they get here. I mean I didn’t attend the orientation, but you have these damn kids for three days right? Send them to pauley or something and play them some videos of the greatest moments in UCLA history. Make them know all the things they should be proud of. Make them know the UCLA greats, football and basketball. Make them tour the hall of fame. Make them learn every chant cheer and god knows what else. Make them come out of orientation with the burning desire to make a stop at USC on the way home and do something passionately pro-ucla (im not going to encourage something classless and unbruinlike, but if it happens it happens). Make them Bruins for life before they ever start their classes at UCLA.
Sorry that was so long. Ive been thinking about this too much. Now I need to go to bed so I can study for finals tomorrow. Hopefully there is some decent thoughts or insight there. Hopefully you won't be asking for however many minutes it took you to read this, if you read it all, back. Apologies if this is too much from a new member. I, like everyone at BN, have a passion for UCLA athletics, and I want just like everyone to be the best program around.