Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Life is a Bowl of Sugar

Is it a sign of the times or a sign of the future.

Sugar Bowl Ticket Sales are sagging They were advertising on the big screen on the side of the Arena yesterday.

With the Jan. 1 game against No. 4 Cincinnati (12-0) only two weeks away, No. 5 UF (12-1) is nowhere close to selling out the 17,500 tickets allotted to each school by the Sugar Bowl.

"We have about 5,000 to go (to sell out)," said Mark Gajda, UF's assistant athletic director of ticket operations.

Other BCS Bowl games were also having trouble.

Orange Bowl still had Tickets available at its website.
Fiesta Bowl Tickets were still available at their web site. Even though I sold some tickets for them. A friend of ours is a TCU alum. Earlier in the season it looked like TCU might end up in the Orange Bowl we invited them to join us for the game. He was incredulous that we could get tickets. Apparently we inspired him to go to the Fiesta Bowl and root for the Horny Toads.

The Rose Bowl has sold out.

There may be several reasons for this slump, first is the national economy but there are I believe other reasons. One is certainly the rise of ticket exchanges which make it possible for fans purchase legitimate tickets from other fans easily. Just a few years ago buying a ticket required that you "know somebody" or take a risk with a scalper of dubious antecedents. Another is moving the games out of the Holiday season making it more difficult for fans to travel. Finally game match ups are made according to political criteria. Does anyone except the alumni really believe that either TCU or Boise State are in the same league with Texas and Alabama? Would anyone in their right mind have invited Utah to New Orleans for a party?

In recent years the Sugar Bowl has suffered from the BCS arrangement that moved the game from its original New Years Day date and has also taken the SEC Champion out of the Sugar Bowl every year there has been a separate BSC Championship game. That is four years in a row, good for the SEC bad for the Sugar Bowl.

The Sugar Bowl game is in great shape due to the TV money. But I don't think the game is doing all it can to promote tourism in New Orleans, one of the original purposes of college bowl games.

Long time readers of my mutterings (thanks to both of you) might remember that each year we take a short vacation to south Florida and go to the Orange Bowl. We get our tickets through the Orange Bowl committee and we can renew them every year as long as we want to. We plan this trip well in advance and spent a good bit of money in the Miami / Fort Lauderdale Area.

I enjoy the spectacle and the enthusiasm of the fans. We meet people having a good time and since we know when the game is we can plan way ahead and not be rushed into making snap decisions. We know we will have good seats because we have the same seats every year.

The Fiesta Bowl has a similar policy. I don't know what the Rose Bowl does. On the other hand the Sugar Bowl goes out of its way to make it difficult. I have received several emails inviting me to buy tickets, but apparently purchasing tickets does not give you any assurance that you will be able to buy tickets next year. The website seems designed to randomly hand out the worst seats available.

The Sugar Bowl also does not seem to have done as much as the could to develop their relationship with the SEC. I don't understand why the SEC championship could not be held in New Orleans. I don't understand why the Superdome could not be the site of a pre-bowl. What are those games doing in Atlanta?

I'd like to suggest that since they are hosting the 2012 BCS Championship and since it has been past practice to require that people purchase Bowl Tickets to get BCS tickets that in the 2011 season the Sugar bowl initiate a 2 year package that includes a 2011 Sugar Bowl Tickets, 2012 Sugar Bowl and 2012 BCS Championship Tickets. Further that the Sugar Bowl initiate a series of public events in connection with these games including some kind of pregame party possibly a concert/fan party at Woldenberg Park and some kind of premium parking pass available to people attending the game. These packages would carry with them renewal and upgrade privileges, provided the tickets are renewed in July or something like that.

A lot of this is what the Orange Bowl does. They have what they call "Fan Fest" the day before in apark in Miami and a "Tailgate" party in the parking lot the day of the game. They attract corporate sponsors to underwrite the events and I think this allows them to keep demand and ticket prices up. A good idea is worth stealing.

If there were a consistent group well heeled of college football fans coming to New Orleans for the game and a vacation spending money in hotels and restaurants whether their team was in the game or not it would help the local economy. I imagine any number of Alabama, Georgia Auburn or Arkansas fans would purchase tickets on the chance that their team might make the game.

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