David Climer: Tennessee Vols face a growing gap in Neyland Stadium crowd

The University of Tennessee has a problem that most athletics departments around the country would love to have.

As of this week, UT has sold about 61,500 football season tickets.

The problem: That figure is about 11,000 short of the 72,500 season tickets that are available and more than 2,000 behind sales at this point last year.

Although nobody on the premises appears to be in panic mode yet, it is cause for concern. Unsold season tickets add up — fast. At $390 a pop, the current shortfall amounts to about $4.3 million.

Continue reading at The Tennessean.

© 2011 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 55

MikeInTN writes:

Would beating Alabama & Florida on a somewhat regular bases solve this problem?

wharfrat writes:

What a dopey move, dropping North Carolina and picking up Buffalo. Most season ticket holders would rather see a competitive game than a cupcake win, plus a challenging schedule attracts good athletes. Tennessee never shied away from tough teams, they are playing Oklahoma home-and-home 2014 and 2015. Let us get a first class athletics director from somewhere to run a sophisticated business like Tennessee sports, not some yo-yo whose only qualification is they played football at Tennessee. What about Ernie Grunfeld.

givehim6 writes:

Now my wife finally got a job after looking for 3 years, might get to go to a few games next year as long as UT has good handicap facilities, will this help?

volpreacher writes:

The economy isn't helping but I think the problem is there are too many fair weathered fans who only come when things are good. VFL. I have worn my orange, supported my Vols through it all.

keepitreal4vols writes:

Climer is a idiot armed with media credentials.

John_10065 writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I smell something very foul!

Oh! It's troll flatulence.

May I suggest a career path for you. That way you won't be stinking up the message boards and contributing to climate change with your greenhouse gas emanations. And besides mama troll would be so glad to get you out of the basement finally.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/eart...

Down_The_Field writes:

we are getting commitments from players and KNS posts junk like this. is it true nathan peterman, qb from near st. augustine, flarduh has commited?

Orange_Juiced writes:

Climer writes, "The lagging ticket sales can be blamed on a number of things — bad economy, high gas prices, high-def telecasts, NFL presence in the state, etc. But the biggest factor is mediocre performance."

600 mile drive roundtrip...$120.00
2 nights hotel stay...$300
6 meals for 5 family members...$200
Tickets for the game for 5...$250
Concessions for 5 at the game...$50
Souvenirs or miscellaneous...$80
Total cost for my family to attend TWO home games a year...$2000.

Sorry folks...if I could afford it...I'd be at every home game this year...no matter the win/loss record.

BigBadVol writes:

in response to volpreacher:

The economy isn't helping but I think the problem is there are too many fair weathered fans who only come when things are good. VFL. I have worn my orange, supported my Vols through it all.

Amen to this! VFL!!!!

BigBadVol writes:

in response to Down_The_Field:

we are getting commitments from players and KNS posts junk like this. is it true nathan peterman, qb from near st. augustine, flarduh has commited?

I heard the same thing. I hope it's true.

BigBadVol writes:

Just checked. Nathan Peterman did commit last night. Nice pick up.

born2ride writes:

Who wants to pay to see the Vols blowout Montana, Buffalo and MTSU? Cincinnati is the best non-conference team and they were 4-8 last year.

I suppose UT wants Dooley to get easy wins to pad his record. But we will never get better playing cupcakes.

NashvillePreds writes:

I have been one of Climer's harshest critics of late, but can find no fault with this column.

If/when you win, they will come.
Nothing unites the state of Tennessee, like Big Orange football. The fact is indisputable.

GO VOLS

Brillovol writes:

in response to wharfrat:

What a dopey move, dropping North Carolina and picking up Buffalo. Most season ticket holders would rather see a competitive game than a cupcake win, plus a challenging schedule attracts good athletes. Tennessee never shied away from tough teams, they are playing Oklahoma home-and-home 2014 and 2015. Let us get a first class athletics director from somewhere to run a sophisticated business like Tennessee sports, not some yo-yo whose only qualification is they played football at Tennessee. What about Ernie Grunfeld.

I'm hearing South Carolina's AD is the lead candidate now that GT got probation.

While I disagree with Climer quite a bit, I think this was a fair assessment. If the product on the field improves, so will ticket sales.

volboy81 writes:

in response to born2ride:

Who wants to pay to see the Vols blowout Montana, Buffalo and MTSU? Cincinnati is the best non-conference team and they were 4-8 last year.

I suppose UT wants Dooley to get easy wins to pad his record. But we will never get better playing cupcakes.

who wants to see blowouts vs Montana, Buffalo and MTSU? ME! and about 100,000 of my closest friends. Id rather be playing UNC in CH this year, but little Mikey put an end to that before his rear was booted from Rocky Top. Id be there if we were playing Hooterville, as would any true, loyal VFL fan! I think the reasons given for the lower amount of fans at games is right...economy, gas prices, HDTV, mediocre team, but everything is cyclical and it will turn back to Big Orange soon!
GO VOLS!!!!

vol45 writes:

in response to born2ride:

Who wants to pay to see the Vols blowout Montana, Buffalo and MTSU? Cincinnati is the best non-conference team and they were 4-8 last year.

I suppose UT wants Dooley to get easy wins to pad his record. But we will never get better playing cupcakes.

We all want to see the great games; however,look at Neyland's schedules while he was there. I'm saying, before you attack, that he was probably the best coach in the history of college football, but a lot of those historic wins came against Chattanooga, Maryville College,Tennessee Tech to name a few. He even once said that 25 years after you go 10-1, no one asks who the other 10 were. Early in my lifetime the lesser games were the only ones that I got to attend as the cost was always less; I was very glad to go and have any seat.

VolzsFan writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You make a few very solid points. First, the economy is bad all over. In fact, Tenn is in better shape than several South East places. That is not it. They had great crowds in the 95K range or capacity through the 70s and 80s. After expansion in 1994, they averaged 105K + every year. Stadium to big? No. Top 5 in attendance or so? Yes. No, new technology will atler that going forward. Face it, the Tenn Tradition is a big crowd. Outside of the 1993-2008 era of winning, the tradition was not that of winning big or winning championships. History tells us so. In other words, enjoy the pre-game BBQ, big crowd and bands. That is the tradition. Winning big is certainly not. That era is what spoiled everyone.

NashvillePreds writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

You make a few very solid points. First, the economy is bad all over. In fact, Tenn is in better shape than several South East places. That is not it. They had great crowds in the 95K range or capacity through the 70s and 80s. After expansion in 1994, they averaged 105K + every year. Stadium to big? No. Top 5 in attendance or so? Yes. No, new technology will atler that going forward. Face it, the Tenn Tradition is a big crowd. Outside of the 1993-2008 era of winning, the tradition was not that of winning big or winning championships. History tells us so. In other words, enjoy the pre-game BBQ, big crowd and bands. That is the tradition. Winning big is certainly not. That era is what spoiled everyone.

Your statement about the lack of winning before 1993 is arbitrary, and factually incorrect.
Robert Neyland's record: 173-32-12
Doug Dickey's record: 46-15
Johnny Major's record: 116-62-8

hcjournals#206623 writes:

We are The Vols. Don't worry, we will fill up the stadium. We always have. The last three years are over. Lane Kiffin is far way screwing up the Left coast. Hang tight. We are going to have some nice surprises this year....Tebow is gone.....Florida is vulnerable. Bama is cocky. One or both will fall to us. Start getting ready....

CoverOrange writes:

in response to NashvillePreds:

I have been one of Climer's harshest critics of late, but can find no fault with this column.

If/when you win, they will come.
Nothing unites the state of Tennessee, like Big Orange football. The fact is indisputable.

GO VOLS

No fault? I can find some. How about where he said Dooley wanted out of the UNC game? All I've ever read said Hamilton had been working on rescheduling during the Kiffin regime. Climer also said the product on the field was the biggest factor, but offers no proof. My dad gave up his tickets he had for 35 years because of the escalation in donation requirements and ticket prices. I know several members of my extended family have been without employment in the Knoxville area several times over the last few years. Prices higher, money tight. People are holding out for the big games and giving up the season tickets.

easleychuck writes:

There are many reasons. One that was not mentioned thatis very true in our family is that we just don't care to go to 7 or 8 games a year. With the kids have so much going on with school events. They play on various sports teams pretty much year round. Vacations are more expensive so at the end of the day, we just make choices to not spend so much of our income for sporting events. And as others have posted, Climer is clueless that he does not understand that the price of the tickets are just a small part of the equation. The donations that they are constantly chirping for are even harder on the wallet. Still support the team, just doing it more from the other side of the mountains, instead of in the stadium.

punkin writes:

in response to John_10065:

I smell something very foul!

Oh! It's troll flatulence.

May I suggest a career path for you. That way you won't be stinking up the message boards and contributing to climate change with your greenhouse gas emanations. And besides mama troll would be so glad to get you out of the basement finally.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/eart...

He already has a career. He is sitting behind the counter at the Stop and Go Market.

punkin writes:

The Tennessean got rid of Biddle but they need to layoff one more.

Chartervol writes:

UT is going to have to improve the comfort level at the stadium for the average fan, or they are going to continue getting their butts whipped by 50-inch HD televisions. UT is doing a great job of putting in revenue-generating luxury suites and club seats, but everybody else is fighting over a couple inches of cold aluminum.

Nobody wants to hear it, but the day will come when UT will rip out the bleachers and put in chairback seats with improved amenities for everyone. That will take capacity down to the 85,000 range and make for a much better experience. It will be the trend at all major college stadiums.

And don't boo-hoo about how special it is to have 100,000-plus. Most everybody has big stadiums now -- it just doesn't impress opponents like some folks think.

VolAlum03ISBACK (Inactive) writes:

in response to BigBadVol:

Just checked. Nathan Peterman did commit last night. Nice pick up.

Yes, we beat out schools like: Wake Forest, Cincinnati, Vanderbilt, and football powerhouse....wait for it....Connecticut. We're on our way back to the SEC championship with this one!!

I'm not saying that Peterman won't pan out, but basically all we've done is given Nash Nance something to think about (i.e. who is gong to be the third string QB and who is going to be on the practice squad).

And no..I don't care about the stars (which is why I didn't list them). I care about what other schools offered the kid. The ONLY other SEC school to offer him was Vandy. You can't argue that he is undervalued because he isn't playing in a krap football state, so don't start.

UT got a great player with Drae Bowles (other offers include: Notre Dame, Auburn, Arkansas), but it seems that Dooley and Co. are back to form for the 2012 recruiting class.

OrangePride writes:

It is becoming redundant that all of the talking word processors are taking stabs at why ticket sales were behind last year and this year. Well granted, the product on the field and turmoil does not help ticket sales. But I will tell you right now, roll back the required scalper's fee..better known as annual donation....to around 100 bucks instead of 1000 bucks and the remainder of those seats would be gone in an instant. And BTW, just two years ago, the fee for Z14 seats was $125 per seat. Isn't it ironic that it was last year they bumped the cost for those same two seats to $1000 and those have been the two years that have also been behind traditional sales? Now I suppose, even with the lagging sales numbers, total revenue is up; but at what other costs? The crowds are smaller, often less noisy, and many, abhoribly, just sell their tickets to Alabama and Florida fans. The economy and poor scheduling notwithstanding, Tennessee would sell out those season seats to real fans by just putting the price into the "affordable" range for average income families. Nuff said!

Chartervol writes:

People want championship teams for affordable family prices. You can pick one or the other, but not both.

volfandave writes:

in response to born2ride:

Who wants to pay to see the Vols blowout Montana, Buffalo and MTSU? Cincinnati is the best non-conference team and they were 4-8 last year.

I suppose UT wants Dooley to get easy wins to pad his record. But we will never get better playing cupcakes.

why not pad it with some easy non conf.games when you have an in conf. schedule that we have.

GerryOP writes:

Everyone repeat after me:

The sky ... is not ... falling.

If you don't feel better, repeat again ... and again ... and again.

Many schools would be giggling-silly if they sold 61,500.

mlynn1 writes:

in response to born2ride:

Who wants to pay to see the Vols blowout Montana, Buffalo and MTSU? Cincinnati is the best non-conference team and they were 4-8 last year.

I suppose UT wants Dooley to get easy wins to pad his record. But we will never get better playing cupcakes.

Just think, if you never posted a comment, then no one would know how dumb you are!

hglover40#234154 writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dooley's first two classes #13 and #9 in the country - does that sound like MMU to you?
Kiffin&company may be better recruiters, but there was at least a 50% chance they would commit some serious NCAA violations!!
Our average stars for the 2011 class(since everyone freaks over stars)is 3.41. Bama #1 class - average stars 3.91. In my mind that should get us pretty close to competive in the SEC. We can win the East with these type classes - win the east and better recruits will come - along with bigger crowds!!

Govols25 writes:

in response to volpreacher:

The economy isn't helping but I think the problem is there are too many fair weathered fans who only come when things are good. VFL. I have worn my orange, supported my Vols through it all.

It's pretty ironic considering ur username, but amen to that! Go vols!!!!

stevefrommemphis writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yes, it's very obvious that Tennessee is going through a down cycle. It's the late 1970s repeated. Speaking of probabilities, that means there's only a 90% chance that Tennessee beats both Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

Brillovol writes:

in response to Chartervol:

People want championship teams for affordable family prices. You can pick one or the other, but not both.

Last time we had a championship team, prices were affordable. I don't think lowering the entry fee donation is asking too much.

stevefrommemphis writes:

in response to TheBigE:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

+1 good comment

Just out of curiosity, if you were one of those loyal fans who got booted, what section were you in before and what section now? Low in the upper deck, or high?

OrangePride writes:

in response to volfandave:

why not pad it with some easy non conf.games when you have an in conf. schedule that we have.

Putting in non-conference opponents who are not of SEC quality is great, and all of the SEC schools do it. BUT, Montana and Buffalo are really not the kinds of non-conference matchups that help us or have any real fan interest. Teams like Northern Illinois, Ohio (who had Solitch as their coach) or even a WAC team would be a lot better. The danger is that if the Vols brought in a poor effort (as they did with Wyoming), they could pay dearly. Having the turkeys we have this year conveys a poor message. And on that topic, buying out of the UNC game was a BIG scheduling and PR mistake.

Bigger_Al writes:

Climer is another media idiot. Love the way he says with certainty, with no data whatsoever, that "the biggest factor is mediocre performance". Then he goes on to detail the weakened schedule.

The facts are that Hamilton has been raising ticket prices in the worst economy since the Great Depression. And I've always thought that UT traditionally plays the most difficult schedule in the SEC is because former AD Dickey wanted to bring the Vol fans marquis opponents and knew that they would fill the stadium if he did. Fulmer never objected to playing big time opponents the week before or the week after Florida. Hamilton continued in that way until dropping UNC. Unfortunately, this season we have taken the "Kentucky Bowl Eligibility Plan" crafted by Rich Brooks:
- Schedule three hapless teams that you couldn't lose to on your worst day,
- Hope to beat smaller Big East team (Louisville, Cincinnati),
- Beat Vandy,
- Get one more SEC win (UK plays Miss. State every year, though they're improving now. UT would put Kentucky in this slot.)

Remember, we played Oregon last year, and Cincinnati has been in a BCS bowl in 2 of the last 3 years. Yes, Kelly's left the building, but that game was scheduled with Kelly there. I believe Oklahoma and Nebraska are on future schedules. So hopefully, with the rise back to a full squad that actually has a decent number of Jr.'s and Sr.'s, we will get back to playing tougher teams.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to hcjournals#206623:

We are The Vols. Don't worry, we will fill up the stadium. We always have. The last three years are over. Lane Kiffin is far way screwing up the Left coast. Hang tight. We are going to have some nice surprises this year....Tebow is gone.....Florida is vulnerable. Bama is cocky. One or both will fall to us. Start getting ready....

Love the confidence..I would happy with one of those, ecstatic with both.

Vol43 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

No fault? I can find some. How about where he said Dooley wanted out of the UNC game? All I've ever read said Hamilton had been working on rescheduling during the Kiffin regime. Climer also said the product on the field was the biggest factor, but offers no proof. My dad gave up his tickets he had for 35 years because of the escalation in donation requirements and ticket prices. I know several members of my extended family have been without employment in the Knoxville area several times over the last few years. Prices higher, money tight. People are holding out for the big games and giving up the season tickets.

That is the question I have. Did Dooley want out of the NC game?

Classof72 writes:

Hamilton sold the right to harass the fans at the game to the Jumbotron people. Buy 'em back and mute that thing. Nobody would watch on TV at home if they couldn't control the volume and mute what they don't want to hear. Never victimize your customers, unless you don't want repeat customers. The Vols have lots of customers; they just aren't retaining enough of them. Instead of treating them right, they've hired sales reps to find replacement customers. That is a very bad strategy.

vol45 writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Everyone says don't attack the poster but the post:

What in the hell does that have to do with any of this discussion?

Vol1983 writes:

Why do you think Hamilton is gone? He wasn’t the fund raising genius as he and Chancellor Jimmy tried to claim. While he was taking credit for contributors’ generosity, he was arrogantly and stupidly eroding that generosity.

tnaseevol writes:

in response to hcjournals#206623:

We are The Vols. Don't worry, we will fill up the stadium. We always have. The last three years are over. Lane Kiffin is far way screwing up the Left coast. Hang tight. We are going to have some nice surprises this year....Tebow is gone.....Florida is vulnerable. Bama is cocky. One or both will fall to us. Start getting ready....

My friend, you are right. But isn't it a shame we have to rely on the team we are playing for inadequacies? We need not be saying Tebow is gone, Fl is vulnerable, Bama is cocky, KY always loses, etc. We need to be coached up to be ready for what comes! Granted, it will take 2 or 3 more years for us to be in the running for SEC East, much less SEC champs, but we've gotta starting showing some attitude now! I just don't think we have it yet...maybe not even against these teams we should beat.

But, I'm a VFL and will be there on that hot, hellacious humid day come Sept 3.

Hacksaw57 writes:

in response to BigBadVol:

I heard the same thing. I hope it's true.

Here's the scoop on Peterman:
http://tennessee.scout.com/2/1087863....

tnaseevol writes:

One thing they could do is go back to the original size of the seats. Some years back they took every seat down 2" so they could have more seats. In our section a couple bought season tickets out of these cut down seats, the lady was on our row, and the husband was directly behind her on the next row. How insane is this? Cut everyone's seat down by 2" so you can cram a few more people in. Now they are hurting for people....and the seats are so damm tight one can not sit full face on, have to turn to the side.
And get a big, tall, man...ye gawds it is awful.

volhome writes:

There are several good points in the comments made. To add:

I applaud those that do recognize that economy is devastating not just UT season ticket sales, but look around at other sporting events. NASCAR was selling out everywhere just a few years back, and now are thrilled to sell out a single track.

The level of the product is indeed down. But is anyone thinks there is a possibility for improvement to occur this year, come see the games. Sure, winning them all is great, but getting better all the time gets you to that level.

Stadium comfort versus the home experience is an interesting argument. The bleacher seats are really uncomfortable, so we buy three tickets for the two of us. By the end of the game, with no back support and the sardine experience, we are aching and ready to recuperate. At home you get comfort, and whatever shots they want to show. If you want to focus on the linebackers, for instance, you may never see that on TV. At the game you control what you watch. This is truly a 'pick your poison'.

And last, the annual contribution. Where do I start? If UT had the gumption, they would simply price every seat with the donation factored in. That way everyone gets to see the real price of the tickets. It sticks in my craw that I donate to buy and the tickets two rows in front of me are sold at face value, often to opponents fans. AARGH!

Bottom line, I still love the Vols, and will be there as long as my aching body can make it. If you love them and can afford it, support the team, buy the tickets, and come on out. Nothing better than sharing a football Saturday with ~100K Vol fans!

VolGrad writes:

in response to Orange_Juiced:

Climer writes, "The lagging ticket sales can be blamed on a number of things — bad economy, high gas prices, high-def telecasts, NFL presence in the state, etc. But the biggest factor is mediocre performance."

600 mile drive roundtrip...$120.00
2 nights hotel stay...$300
6 meals for 5 family members...$200
Tickets for the game for 5...$250
Concessions for 5 at the game...$50
Souvenirs or miscellaneous...$80
Total cost for my family to attend TWO home games a year...$2000.

Sorry folks...if I could afford it...I'd be at every home game this year...no matter the win/loss record.

The powers that be will acknowledge every argument EXCEPT this one, apparently.

You want fans in the stands, drop the prices. Quit charging the students. They pay enough in fees and tuition, this ought to be a perk for attending the University of Tennessee like it once was. The University's own policies are driving away all their fans.

But the beast has grown fat over its ears and is blinded by its own "brillance." And I'm going to keep feeding it?

I don't think so.

Great post, A1A.

GBO!!!

VOLliven2it writes:

YAWN, this is what is to be expected when a team is rebuilding. Many of us do not want to admit we have still a way to go to begin the climb. Yes we have good players, more players and more experienced ones. But we are still lacking in some important areas. People can just not go to games if they prefer. I plan on going to every one I possibly can, watching and supporting too. The damage our last AD and what transpired with Fulmer's discharge, hiring of "what's his Lame" and then Dooley's arrival has been great. So with time we will be back up top of heap in the SEC east. Meanwhile, we still back our team and believe in them.

brod writes:

ut is facing the same problem that so many other football programs are facing. overexpansion. it is not a good idea to expand your facilities when your program is at a high point. wait until you hit a down period, then see how your ticket sales are before you make the decision to expand.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Chartervol:

UT is going to have to improve the comfort level at the stadium for the average fan, or they are going to continue getting their butts whipped by 50-inch HD televisions. UT is doing a great job of putting in revenue-generating luxury suites and club seats, but everybody else is fighting over a couple inches of cold aluminum.

Nobody wants to hear it, but the day will come when UT will rip out the bleachers and put in chairback seats with improved amenities for everyone. That will take capacity down to the 85,000 range and make for a much better experience. It will be the trend at all major college stadiums.

And don't boo-hoo about how special it is to have 100,000-plus. Most everybody has big stadiums now -- it just doesn't impress opponents like some folks think.

Some excellent points there. The only way for a somewhat older person like me to get a semblance of comfort on the aluminum benches is to carry a folding stadium chair. As narrow as the "seats" are, standard-sized stadium chairs infringe on the seating on either side. No question in my mind that the NEXT major stadium renovation MUST include more comfortable seating for the general public, even if it costs them a few thousand "seats" to do it. I think most fans who are relegated to those "seats" would pay an extra dollar or so for their tickets for better seating. I know I would!

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features