JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – In its second year back, East Tennessee State University’s football team experienced a nearly 20% drop in the number of season tickets sold, according to figures the university provided at our request.
ETSU lost 484 season ticket holders after its first season. According to the university, the football team sold 2,040 season tickets this year, which includes faculty/staff tickets and corporate partners, compared to 2,524 season tickets the year before.
ETSU Athletic Director Dr. Dick Sander says the university expected what he considers a temporary dip.
“I think the first year you’re always going to get a big bump in the enthusiasm and the excitement and I think this coming year with the opening of the new stadium that we’ll probably revert back to what we had last year,” Dr. Sander said. “I think the consistency will be a lot better with the new stadium, because I think we can do a lot of things to enhance the fan experience.”
ETSU is again playing most of its home games in a high school stadium at Science Hill High School this season. The Bucs plan on playing their home games at their new on-campus stadium, which remains under construction, next season.
Dr. Sander says season tickets will be even more valuable when the team starts playing on-campus. So far, he says ETSU has already sold more than 530 premium seats at the new stadium, which is the equivalent of $135,000 in revenue. Dr. Sander says the program is in it for the long-term, not the short-term and he says so far, fans have not disappointed.
“I think as the team gets better there are a lot of people that want to support a winner and I have no doubt that this team will compete for SOCON Championships in the future,” he said. “I’m pretty impressed with the support that we’ve gotten from our season ticket holders and just in general the ETSU family. The people have come out and supported us and I think when you have such a young team and are building a program the way we’ve done it, I think that’s remarkable that our fans are that loyal.”
ETSU says the season ticket numbers don’t tell the whole story. The university says the football team has momentum, referencing its better overall attendance numbers in its first two games this year compared to last season. Home game attendance is up by 36% or nearly 3,000 more fans a game two games in, according to ETSU. Those figures include the game at Bristol Motor Speedway where the football team set a new attendance record.
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