Florida State season ticket renewals for football continue to trend favorably as Friday’s deadline approaches. The Seminoles also are discussing ways to make tickets more attractive by reducing prices in certain areas of Doak Campbell Stadium. And donors and season ticket holders have requested nearly 6,000 tickets for FSU’s 2019 season opener against Boise State in Jacksonville.
The momentum is a positive sign as the administration looks to revive dipping ticket sales – a serious challenge that faces college and professional teams nationally.
That being said, the work continues for FSU as it expects to sell less than 30,000 season tickets in the stadium bowl this year for six home games.
That’s well off the sold-out mark of 45,000 season tickets sold in 2014, when the Seminoles came off the program’s third national championship and home attendance averaged 82,211.
To be fair, stadium capacity was reduced following the 2015 season. That resulted in a loss of over 5,000 season-ticket eligible seats, and therefore FSU can only sell around 40,000 season tickets in the main seating bowl each year.
Jack Chatham, assistant athletics director of Ticket Operations and Service, said the trending renewal rate for 2019 is around 50 percent. He said that mark aligns with 2017’s renewal rate at this time. Chatham also said priority renewals – in addition to new season ticket sales – have been brisk during the deadline week.
“We’re seeing a nice increase in the mail, phone and online sales volume this week, which is typically the case as we approach the priority deadline”, Chatham said.
FSU second-year coach Willie Taggart and the Seminoles are looking to bounce back from last year’s 5-7 mark.
FSU’s home schedule features games against ACC opponents Louisville (Sept. 21), North Carolina State (Sept. 28), Syracuse (Oct. 26) and Miami (Nov. 2). The Seminoles’ non-conference home games are ULM (Sept. 2) and Alabama State (Nov. 16).
Winning football and an attractive home schedule are keys to the athletic department’s financial success. Director of Athletics David Coburn likes the new direction of the Seminoles’ football program as he works towards correcting his department’s budget issues.
Taggart has retooled his staff with the addition of offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, offensive line coach Randy Clements and receivers coach Ron Dugans, a Tallahassee native and former Seminole player. FSU opens spring practice Monday
Coburn also is working to upgrade the Seminoles’ future home schedules, especially in odd-numbered years when FSU plays rival Florida in Gainesville.
In a recent interview with the Democrat and Warchant.com, Coburn said he’s in discussions with several “big-time” football programs to travel to Tallahassee in 2023, 2025 and 2027. FSU home schedules will also feature Notre Dame in 2021 and 2029 as part of the Irish’s partial membership in the ACC.
The Seminoles sold only 32,194 season tickets for Taggart’s debut last year, not including about 6,500 premium seats sold in the Dunlap Champions Club and stadium suites. FSU’s average home attendance was 68,288 for seven games.
Even if FSU’s renewal rate for the 2019 reaches 85 percent, considered a healthy mark in the industry and the Seminoles’ average in recent years, the program still faces declining sales. The Seminoles’ season ticket renewals would be 27,364 in the bowl and 33,864 overall, including premium seating options.
Coburn and FSU are focused on improving the fan experience at the stadium. That includes 5G technology enabling high speed mobile connectivity and the possible addition of a beer garden or two. Coburn has hired a ticketing and marketing expert in Paul Phipps, and looks to facilitate more affordable housing options for fans on home game weekends.
Coburn said FSU also is working on smaller bundle ticket packages as an alternative to season tickets. It also is looking at premium “experiential packages” with special field access and other amenities for a single game.
“In the short term, we have to sell tickets,” Coburn said. “That means we have to move the football and stop the other team. We are working on it.”
Chatham said FSU has sold around 2,000 tickets for the Seminoles’ April 6 spring game that starts at 4 p.m. Tickets are $10 in the main seating bowl, $30 for midfield reserved tickets and $40 to $65 tickets in the Champions Club, which includes food and soft drinks and features a cash bar.
This year’s post-game concert for ticketed fans is scheduled to feature MC Hammer, Tone Loc and Color Me Badd. The show follows up last year’s game that attracted a crowd of 60,000 and featured a post-game concert with Vanilla Ice, Salt-N-Pepa and Rob Base.
Reach Jim Henry at [email protected]