IU chases Purdue in football ticket sales

June 10, 2010
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Indiana University had its best year in football ticket sales last year since 1992, and school officials think they’re in line for an even better year this year.

But when it comes to football, there’s still no comparison between Indiana University and Purdue University.

On the field, Purdue wins more games, and in the accounting columns the Boilers scores more cash.

IU Athletic Director Fred Glass and his staff hope to change all that. And a quick look at the books would indicate IU is closing the gap.

For the record, Glass and his staff said they don’t measure themselves against other programs, only their own standards. OK, whatever.

But if Purdue is the gold standard so-to-speak, let’s take a look at what IU is chasing. Take it easy Notre Dame fans, IU isn’t anywhere near ready to take on that gridiron behemoth. So let’s forget about the Golden Domers for the time being.

Last year, Purdue had average football attendance of 49,800, ahead of IU’s 42,000.

Remember in 2008, the Hoosiers averaged 31,782 fans per home game at Memorial Stadium. So not a bad uptick.

Every sports marketer knows the key to building attendance is season ticket sales. Single-game ticket sales are simply too labor intensive. So the summer is a key selling period for IU and Purdue.

Last year, Purdue sold 34,523 season tickets, 8,930 of those to students. IU trails those numbers too, but Pat Kraft, IU senior assistant athletic director for marketing, has high hopes for this year.

“The big goal is to average more than 42,000 per game and to get our student attendance up to 10,000 to 13,000 per game,” Kraft said.

Kraft and his staff have a long way to go.

IU did a back flip last September when it sold nearly 6,000 student season tickets. Kraft knows he’ll have to do better than that this year to make his goal. He has reason for optimism. Last year, IU sold about 10,200 student tickets per game, up almost 3,000 from 2008, and the most since 1992, when 11,389 student tickets per game were sold.

Still, too many of those sales last year were due to deep discounts and single-game sales. IU sold a total of 17,301 season tickets last year, 5,993 to students. Considering IU's fan base, it's difficult to understand why the Cream and Cimson would sell only half as many season football tickets as the Black and Gold. I guess winning, and tradition, matter.

Kraft said ticket sales “are tracking far ahead” of where they were a year ago, and the school is preparing to launch a viral marketing campaign featuring a video including football coach Bill Lynch that IU officials hope can close the gap to its cross-state rival.

“The key is we want a lot of students at our football games,” Kraft said. “The energy they bring is just unparalleled. We think it’s a big part of creating the atmosphere we want.”

  • iu has two major issues. You cannot sell tickets without a winning program and Memorial Stadium is smaller by 10,000 seats. That hurts iu when big programs like Michigan and OSU come to town with their fans, they can only pack in 52,000.

    One other thing to look at is iu did not play OSU or UM in 2008 and played MSU, Iowa, NU and UW at home. Compare that to playing OSU, UofI, UW and Purdue at home in 2009. I am betting that is at least part of the reason for the increased attendance.

    Bottom line if iu wins, they will attract fans. Keep losing, they will stay bottom of the pack. Good news is Nebraska will increas iu's attendance when they come to town.
  • Lovable losers?
    Why can't IU football be the lovable losers like the Chicago Cubs. Unfortunately that's about the only chance they have of growing attendance while Billy Lynch is there. Nice guy. Bad coach.
  • Danny Hope
    Yep, Danny Hope vs. Bill Lynch. Not much of a comparison.
  • Purdue has had two very fortunate picks for coaches. I remember iu nation touting Cameron and ripping on this WAC coach Tiller. Purdue has shown in its last few coaches(included Painter) that they have a good formula going.
  • more than good fortune
    Purdue has had more than good fortune. The athletic department has been relatively well managed, including the sticky situation with the exit of Gene Keady. IU meanwhile has botched just about every coaching decision (football and basketball) of the last decade. Let's hope Fred Glass can do better.
  • Big Ten
    With the Big Ten potentially adding schools like Nebraska (perennial winners), if they had any sense, they would kick Iu out (perennial losers). It will get to a point where Iu no longer belongs.

    Oh, well, there's always the MAC....
  • Sorry
    IU will NEVER have an average football program. They will forever be in the bottom tier of the Big 16 (or whatever) as they are up against too many other top tier programs to ever matter - considering recruiting kids, getting a decent coach (other than Hep), etc. They should gladly take their undeserved share of the Big 16 football pie and put it all in basketball (because in reality, they aren't really good at that sport either).
  • ticket sales
    I would be anxious to see how IU's numbers would be if they didn't give so many away and give such huge discounts ($5 tickets). With OSU, UW, and PU off the home schedule this year, I'm guessing we'll see IU's attendence back down. Like it or not, IU has to rely on visitors to fill the seats.
  • IU Program Cover
    Good news for IU. Since Nebraska is coming in 2011. IU will have a second " Full House RED background" option when photographing the crowd for the IU Footbal program.

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