Economy bites college football season ticket sales Print
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Thursday, 20 August 2009 10:30
NCAAF Headline News

 EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -Brandon Drzewicki will travel from suburban Chicago to Michigan State, his alma mater, for most football Saturdays this fall - but only because he got a sweet deal offered exclusively to recent alumni.
A season ticket for seven home games will cost him just $175 instead of the $308 charged to the general public.
``I don't think we would have got them if we had to pay the public rate,'' said Drzewicki, who graduated from Michigan State in December. ``We get to go tailgate, we get to go back to East Lansing. I don't put a price on it, within means. But I'm not going to go into debt for it.''
With the economy still sputtering, college football programs across the country are courting fans with ticket discounts, smaller packages and promotions to salvage sales as the season approaches. Some are boosting the use of Facebook, Twitter and traditional advertising to target new buyers as established customers cancel or cut back orders.
assistant athletics director at Purdue, where sales are off 17 percent. ``The economy may not be 100 percent of the reason, but we believe it's the lion's share.''
Coming off a 4-8 season and a coaching change, Purdue now has a mini-plan allowing fans to buy a ticket for either the Notre Dame or Ohio State games, plus any two additional games, for $140.
There are places where college football seems recession-proof, thanks to a long track record of success and lofty expectations.
Ohio is dealing with some of its highest unemployment rates since the early 1980s. But 99 percent of last year's Ohio State football season-ticket holders are renewing their seats for 2009 in anticipation of another strong season.
Florida and Oklahoma, who played in last season's BCS national championship game, also report strong sales entering this season. So do Texas, Alabama and Southern Cal.
Some traditional powers that have slipped on the field are having a tougher time.
Season ticket sales are down 13 percent at Florida State, prompting the school to sell some season packages for less than it would cost to buy seats to each individual game. The Seminoles also allowed season ticket holders to pay through installment plans this season.
orks to reach more fans, especially younger ones, in hopes of filling 100,011-seat Neyland Stadium.
A Web site launched in July allows fans to immediately buy tickets, including season tickets and three-game packages, while controversial comments by new coach Lane Kiffin have generated buzz around the program.
``Because we had a little bit of softness, what it gave us a chance to do was experiment with some things that we really haven't felt comfortable with experimenting in the past,'' said Chris Fuller, a Tennessee associate athletic director.
Michigan expects to have as many fans as usual in the 106,201-seat Big House, despite last year's 3-9 record and being in the state with the nation's highest unemployment rate.
Still, the Wolverines are digging deeper into their season-ticket waiting list than in past seasons. The athletic department has more widely promoted a deal offering a season ticket for $400, some $50 cheaper than buying seats to each game. The catch is that the buyer does not get renewal rights for the seats in 2010.
Michigan State is on pace to meet or exceed last year's season ticket total of about 58,700. A few hundred fans who did not renew tickets could not be tracked by the university for follow-up questioning, raising speculation some may have moved out of state to find work.
ertising and discounted ticket packages targeting families and new alumni.
``College football is part of the fabric of this state,'' Michigan State associate athletic director John Lewandowski said. ``People will make sacrifices in other areas to have their football Saturdays.''
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AP Sports Writers Rusty Miller in Columbus, Ohio, and Cliff Brunt in West Lafayette, Ind., contributed to this report.
 

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