At 'Meet Your Seats' event, UT tries to woo fans back to Neyland

GoPro image shows Neyland Stadium. 
 (Adam Brimer/News Sentinel)

Photo by Adam Brimer

GoPro image shows Neyland Stadium. (Adam Brimer/News Sentinel)

Meet Your Seats event at Neyland Stadium

On Thursday afternoon, Neyland Stadium was empty, except for a crew of maintenance workers with pressure washers who were blasting the cement walkways.

But as fans wandered through the concourse, Tennessee fundraisers hoped they could envision a packed stadium and a winning team — and wanted to buy tickets to be a part of it.

Thursday was “Meet Your Seats” day at Neyland Stadium. A large crew of UT staffers was on hand to greet fans who wanted to check out season tickets, or to help current season ticket holders change or upgrade their location.

“Maybe it’s under (a) cover, maybe it’s having a different view or maybe it’s getting closer to the concession stands,” said Greg Hulen, UT’s associate athletic director for development, about different reasons fans may want to relocate seats.

Energized by new coach Butch Jones, fans filled 61,076 seats at Neyland Stadium for the April 20 spring game. Football attendance has dwindled in the five years since the Vols last had a winning record in conference play, and the spring game offered some hope that there are better days ahead.

But UT is battling a soft market for tickets that has impacted every sport at every level, and senior associate athletic director Chris Fuller said during an interview last month that a new coach alone was unlikely to dramatically alter season ticket sales.

So what to do?

Outreach efforts like Thursday’s event can help. Hulen said it’s important to let fans know that their support isn’t taken for granted.

“Programs like this aren’t going to solve all the problems, but they’re part of the overall puzzle in making sure that we’re connecting with people,” said Hulen. “We feel like the product on the field is going to come with Coach Jones, and he’s going to get things right, but as a staff we have to control the things we can control. For us, that means making sure we have programs like this, that when you call our office you get great customer service, and that we have a way for people to buy tickets online.”

When Hulen awoke Thursday morning, he found a new season ticket sale that had registered over night. Someone decided to buy seats at 2 a.m.

Whether online, on the phone or in person, UT is glad to make the sale. Like many other schools, UT is scrambling to fill seats. But the Neyland Stadium inventory — about 102,000 — presents different challenges.

“This stadium is an advantage when you look at the Florida game (that sold out last season),” Hulen said. “But if you go back and look at the Akron game or maybe some games that aren’t as attractive to the fan base, it can be a challenge to sell tickets.”

Some fans were sent individual ticket pre-sale codes via email this week. Prices appeared to reflect fairly substantial discounting. Prices ranged from $45 for lower level seats to the Austin Peay, Western Kentucky and South Alabama games to $55 for Vanderbilt and $70 for Auburn. Games against Georgia and South Carolina — the two highest-profile contests on the 2013 home schedule — could be purchased as part of a mini-plan with two other games. Any three games, excluding South Carolina and Georgia, could be bought for $90.

Season tickets in the lower sections require a donation in addition to the cost of the ticket. Online, fans can purchase midfield lower-deck seats for $2,870 ($370 plus a $2,500 donation) or end zone seats for $870 ($370 plus a $500 donation).

The challenge for Tennessee is selling the rest of the tickets — particularly those in less-desirable locations against less-desirable teams — without undercutting the value of the season ticket packages.

For all the talk of surging television revenue, Hulen said donors and ticket buyers are a vital part of the department’s budget. That’s why the Vols are willing to roll out the red — or, orange — carpet. The days of counting on fans to consider it a privilege to purchase tickets are long gone.

“We know that winning can cure a lot of ills, but I don’t think you can assume that the stadium’s going to fill itself,” Hulen said. “That’s a false premise. We’ve got to win, but we’ve also got to be thinking about ways we can consistently grow the fan experience.“

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

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Comments » 70

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

With technology at an all time high the sport which is the most HDTV friendly (College/NFL fb) will continue to see fans in the stands decline. I have to say I've become an armchair fan of sitting in my lazy boy and enjoying the game on TV, and I never have to wait in line at the restroom or concession stands. What's a great indoorsman to do??

ActualUTAlum writes:

Go to the games, win or lose, or you're not a fan. Period.

I'm tired of this "well I have HDTV" argument. So do I. And I go the games. Just so happens everyone's HDTV got so good when our win/loss record went south.

Pathetic.

Southland writes:

Lower the prices. It is a full day of travel for me to go to a game and then you have a fee that prohibits many fans. I realize that that it costs a lot of money to run a program but people in the seats for a lower price makes a lot more sense than high priced tickets and empty seats. I pull for the Vols win or lose. I try to see a game each year in the major sports but not everyone can afford them.

ActualUTAlum writes:

in response to Crafty_Commodore_4118:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You probably never heard of Vanderturd before last year, and you definitely didn't go there. I guess you can go back to being a Bama/Duke/Lakers/Cowboys fan after Butch trucks Vandy come November.

Here's some numbers: 73-29-5

kdaff51 writes:

What is the proper etiquette for introducing yourself to one's seats and do I need to call my seat if I am running late?

SevenT writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

With technology at an all time high the sport which is the most HDTV friendly (College/NFL fb) will continue to see fans in the stands decline. I have to say I've become an armchair fan of sitting in my lazy boy and enjoying the game on TV, and I never have to wait in line at the restroom or concession stands. What's a great indoorsman to do??

Translation: BiPolar is smart enough not to throw good money at bad football.

CoverOrange writes:

Lower the prices and improve the parking. Wait are we talking going to a football game or going to school?

ActualUTAlum writes:

in response to Crafty_Commodore_4118:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You're criticizing us for speaking about the past while posting LAST YEAR'S football scores?

You got the score wrong the first time anyway.

GerryOP writes:

in response to Crafty_Commodore_4118:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

OK Commodore64, enjoy it while you can. It's always interesting to see a Vandy fan try to talk SEC football trash.

But, for the record, here is the rivalry starting in 1975, 38 games:

Record: UT 34 - Vandy 4
Score Summary: UT 1204 - Vandy 556

So, Commodore64, have a ball. Enjoy it while you can!

utvolfan1955 writes:

in response to GerryOP:

OK Commodore64, enjoy it while you can. It's always interesting to see a Vandy fan try to talk SEC football trash.

But, for the record, here is the rivalry starting in 1975, 38 games:

Record: UT 34 - Vandy 4
Score Summary: UT 1204 - Vandy 556

So, Commodore64, have a ball. Enjoy it while you can!

a commodore 64 is what Crafty uses to makes his posts from his KNS cubicle

dbc5361 writes:

in response to GerryOP:

OK Commodore64, enjoy it while you can. It's always interesting to see a Vandy fan try to talk SEC football trash.

But, for the record, here is the rivalry starting in 1975, 38 games:

Record: UT 34 - Vandy 4
Score Summary: UT 1204 - Vandy 556

So, Commodore64, have a ball. Enjoy it while you can!

If ANY of those past records meant anything now Phil Fulmer would still be around. It's about the last game and in the last game UT got whipped.

govols26 writes:

I would have bought that 3 pack that went on sale today in heartbeat if I wasn't going to be an 11 hour drive away. Really good seats for the price.

stevefrommemphis writes:

I will meet my seats for home Game #4, on October 5, when a real opponent comes to town.

For instance, on Sept 28, I can drive 150 miles each way to see UT play South Alabama, or I can stay home and watch it on HDTV, plus watch LSU v Georgia and Texas A&M v Arkansas and Oklahoma v Notre Dame. It's an easy choice. You can say I'm not a real Tennessee fan, but unless you've seen nearly 250 Tennessee games in person, as I have, I won't give much weight to your opinion.

RoadTrip writes:

Hello, seat. Meet tail. Just not my tail. To get a better lower level seat you need to fork out $2870 for one season ticket. You have got to be kidding me?! That is crazy dumb. Here, take my thousands so I can watch a mediocre team beat less than mediocre teams while losing to good teams in a seat that is about a foot wide without a chair back or arms. Nah.

I will pay my U-verse cable bill on time and enjoy the easy chair.

ActualUTAlum writes:

in response to Crafty_Commodore_4118:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You make fun of Dooley, who was indeed a terrible coach. And even HE beat Vandy once.

thevoice writes:

Required donations should go down very soon, with the income from the TV package. UTAD's going to have to decide what's more important: selling out games or getting TV revenue. My solution: sell beer at games. Students are already bringing it and adults would flock if available.

G8RH8R writes:

To the Vol fans on this site:

Why the H are yall feeding a Vandy troll? Let him talk all the trash he wants. At this point we have NO room to talk, but things change....

Tru138 writes:

in response to SevenT:

Translation: BiPolar is smart enough not to throw good money at bad football.

And yet you pay to go to the Kentucky games. I guess that makes you stoopid.

Orange_Beach writes:

in response to SevenT:

Translation: BiPolar is smart enough not to throw good money at bad football.

Seven, you stole my thunder. Ol' Bi-Polar hung that one out over the plate.

digthevols writes:

When the budget allows, got improve upper deck south end zone. It's a dump and very dangerous up there

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to GerryOP:

OK Commodore64, enjoy it while you can. It's always interesting to see a Vandy fan try to talk SEC football trash.

But, for the record, here is the rivalry starting in 1975, 38 games:

Record: UT 34 - Vandy 4
Score Summary: UT 1204 - Vandy 556

So, Commodore64, have a ball. Enjoy it while you can!

Gerry of NY, does it ever bother you to be so right so much.

Good Vol

G8RH8R writes:

in response to Crafty_Commodore_4118:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It is evident to all of us that you have issues. Good luck with your therapy.

Vols4Ever writes:

in response to Crafty_Commodore_4118:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You lost for over a generation straight including 65 to nada. Come back whenever you are truly relevant.

ReeseHallRelic writes:

in response to Crafty_Commodore_4118:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What was Dooley's record against Little Jimmy Franks, again? 2-1, if I recall. Jimmy's team finally won against arguably the worst Tennessee ever, with Dooley headed for the exits.

And what's Jimmy Franklin's record against our new coach, for whom you show so much disdain? Looks like 0-1.. Cincinnati whipped the Commode Doors in the Liberty Bowl a couple of year back:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/foot...

You are truly mindless, Commode Troll.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

Iam a little confused..To buy season tickets do you also have to also make some kind of donation?? I know my sister has 2 seats in the 5th row of the end zone that were grandfathered to her and she told me that she had to buy a life insurance policy with UT as beneficiary to keep them. Is this common for season ticket holders?? Seems very extreme to me. I live in So Fla and only get to a Vol game every 2 years because flights into TYS are outrageous priced at times. I was a Hurricane ticketholder for 6 years during their dynasty years at the Orange Bowl..The season price was $110. The 58 straight home game wins was priceless

CCLC writes:

I think Ga Tech increased sales almost 20% with their 2 hotdogs and a coke promotion. Better wifi in the stadium would be a big boost. imho

FLAVOLZ writes:

in response to Crafty_Commodore_4118:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

They have this new thing its called a life. Way to much time here Franklins Boy nobody cares.

powert#205805 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

With technology at an all time high the sport which is the most HDTV friendly (College/NFL fb) will continue to see fans in the stands decline. I have to say I've become an armchair fan of sitting in my lazy boy and enjoying the game on TV, and I never have to wait in line at the restroom or concession stands. What's a great indoorsman to do??

There is nothing like hitting that pause button and heading to the icebox for a cocktail. The convenience factor of not having to drive, park, etc., not to mention hearing obnoxious fans, will keep me away forever.

HDTV is just a more pleasurable experience. I wouldn't go if they paid me what they are charging for the tickets.

volndawgville writes:

in response to kdaff51:

What is the proper etiquette for introducing yourself to one's seats and do I need to call my seat if I am running late?

In my day, a call would have been appropriate; however, today, I imagine a text might do.

And since this is a presumably a blind date with the seat, possibly the seat might 'instagram' you a picture.....

volaholic45 writes:

Speaking of thinking of ways to "grow the fan experience," what about redoing the seating to overcome Neyland's reputation as "One Cheek Stadium"? Seriously, Google it.

volndawgville writes:

Evan- nice article I guess. But why not any mention of the success (or lack of) for the event?

Seems like reporting the fan attendance Thursday (vs. rehashing the 61K from spring), # of tickets sold, and the like would be more relevant than espousing someone bought tix online at 2:00 am. Or even how did Thursday stack-up vs. similar events from years past.

Just curious.....

GoVols025 writes:

in response to dbc5361:

If ANY of those past records meant anything now Phil Fulmer would still be around. It's about the last game and in the last game UT got whipped.

Four wins in 38 games! And one in the 1st game and one was in the last game. So, 4-34 sounds better than 2-34? Two wins in 36 games! Small joy for small people.

Kay_Pasa writes:

in response to kdaff51:

What is the proper etiquette for introducing yourself to one's seats and do I need to call my seat if I am running late?

BAAAAhahahahaha!!

vol45 writes:

It all depends on how one wants to see the games. Being a season ticket holder for years in order for all of the family to sit together has been my choice; howver, it is very simple to go to the stadium, pay $5.00 to see them play Austin Peay and $100.00 to see them play Georgia. People who scream about donations, I feel are just looking for a reason to complain about not going to the game. When I first started going, I was thrilled to see any game, no matter who the opponent. If the satisfaction only comes from the winning games, stay home and watch the reruns of games that suit you.

imw8n4u writes:

in response to stevefrommemphis:

I will meet my seats for home Game #4, on October 5, when a real opponent comes to town.

For instance, on Sept 28, I can drive 150 miles each way to see UT play South Alabama, or I can stay home and watch it on HDTV, plus watch LSU v Georgia and Texas A&M v Arkansas and Oklahoma v Notre Dame. It's an easy choice. You can say I'm not a real Tennessee fan, but unless you've seen nearly 250 Tennessee games in person, as I have, I won't give much weight to your opinion.

This! From about 1982 - 1999 I was at every single home game, never missed a one (1994-1999 as a student / grad student). Then I moved too far away and was forced to watch on TV, all the while sick that I wasn't able to be there. But a funny thing happened that I wasn't expecting, I realized I was more than just a TN fan, I was a college football fan. I got to see so many other games, great games I never would have gotten to see had I been at the UT games all day. So, now that I live in Nashville, I go to 1 or 2 games a year and spend the rest at home enjoying college football, all of it, not just TN.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to imw8n4u:

This! From about 1982 - 1999 I was at every single home game, never missed a one (1994-1999 as a student / grad student). Then I moved too far away and was forced to watch on TV, all the while sick that I wasn't able to be there. But a funny thing happened that I wasn't expecting, I realized I was more than just a TN fan, I was a college football fan. I got to see so many other games, great games I never would have gotten to see had I been at the UT games all day. So, now that I live in Nashville, I go to 1 or 2 games a year and spend the rest at home enjoying college football, all of it, not just TN.

Same here, i cherry pick my games now. But, i have to say when i travel with my wife/family it's such a chore about where to eat, where to stay. Not to mention it cost me a small fortune and i miss all the other college action that day. We drive back on Sunday and i miss my NFL games that day. Last year we attended two UT games spent a combined $7,000.00 dollars and went home with a loss both times. That's too much invested to feel that sick over. But, we'll do it again this year when WKU and UGA come to town. However, this year i expect to win both of those games..GBO!

ewoodbery writes:

in response to volndawgville:

Evan- nice article I guess. But why not any mention of the success (or lack of) for the event?

Seems like reporting the fan attendance Thursday (vs. rehashing the 61K from spring), # of tickets sold, and the like would be more relevant than espousing someone bought tix online at 2:00 am. Or even how did Thursday stack-up vs. similar events from years past.

Just curious.....

That's a fair question. The event lasted from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. (or thereabouts), and both UT staffers and fans were coming and going throughout the day.

I was only there for the midday portion, and while I saw a handful of fans, it certainly wasn't crowded.

I will see what I can find out today about tickets sold at the event and will put it on my blog if I find out.

-- Evan

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to ewoodbery:

That's a fair question. The event lasted from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. (or thereabouts), and both UT staffers and fans were coming and going throughout the day.

I was only there for the midday portion, and while I saw a handful of fans, it certainly wasn't crowded.

I will see what I can find out today about tickets sold at the event and will put it on my blog if I find out.

-- Evan

Wow, that's what i call service. Thanks for the reply, Evan.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to ActualUTAlum:

Go to the games, win or lose, or you're not a fan. Period.

I'm tired of this "well I have HDTV" argument. So do I. And I go the games. Just so happens everyone's HDTV got so good when our win/loss record went south.

Pathetic.

Wrong, attending games when you are young opposed to aging (like myself) are completely different experiences. In the 70's-80's attending games @ UT was an experience like no other (especially if you live in West Tennessee). Most of the games were on radio back then and so of course live was better. If you prefer attending games that's wonderful, but for my money I don't enjoy the travel, loudness of 100,000 people crammed in a stadium. UT still has a wonderful game day experience and for those that have never experienced it they should bucket list it. Myself, I've enjoyed games at Dodger stadium, Yankee stadium, Busch stadium, Legion field, Texas Stadium, the Cotton Bowl, Superdome, Georgiadome, Orange Bowl, Joe Robbie stadium, and many others in my lifetime. None compare to the game day experience at Neyland stadium. Still, I only like to attend 2-3 games,depending on UT attending a bowl game this year. Doesn't make me a bad fan or you a great fan, it's just preference.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Wow, that's what i call service. Thanks for the reply, Evan.

And may I provide a hearty AMEN! IMHO, Evan and Brendan have considerably classed up the level of KNS sports coverage. I still <tsk> occasionally at some of BQ's malaprops, but at least he is trying! Both can write a good story. I look forward to every piece by both.

trubleoj#657755 writes:

There is no place I would rather be on a fall Saturday than the high church of college football Neyland Stadium.

CCLC writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Same here, i cherry pick my games now. But, i have to say when i travel with my wife/family it's such a chore about where to eat, where to stay. Not to mention it cost me a small fortune and i miss all the other college action that day. We drive back on Sunday and i miss my NFL games that day. Last year we attended two UT games spent a combined $7,000.00 dollars and went home with a loss both times. That's too much invested to feel that sick over. But, we'll do it again this year when WKU and UGA come to town. However, this year i expect to win both of those games..GBO!

Methinks you have great expectations and place an unfair burden on yourself. "The absence of expectations is the absence of disappointment."

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to CCLC:

Methinks you have great expectations and place an unfair burden on yourself. "The absence of expectations is the absence of disappointment."

One might say the same about ewe..Those world beaters in Athens haven't won a title since 1980..That's 33 years by my calender.

Olddogsrule writes:

in response to ewoodbery:

That's a fair question. The event lasted from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. (or thereabouts), and both UT staffers and fans were coming and going throughout the day.

I was only there for the midday portion, and while I saw a handful of fans, it certainly wasn't crowded.

I will see what I can find out today about tickets sold at the event and will put it on my blog if I find out.

-- Evan

How about checking to see if Crafty_Commodore is in fact the guy who's been kicked off here many times. The choice of words and phrases is almost too similar.
He's been Johnny_Ain't_no_Del_Shoffner, Speyers_whatever, Ghost_of_Neyland, and most recently banned as Rarer_Than_Unicorn_Milk.
Is there in fact a way to permanently ban him if it fact it is him?

Volunteer-Varmint writes:

in response to ActualUTAlum:

Go to the games, win or lose, or you're not a fan. Period.

I'm tired of this "well I have HDTV" argument. So do I. And I go the games. Just so happens everyone's HDTV got so good when our win/loss record went south.

Pathetic.

I'd go to every home game if I didn't live 1500 miles west of KTown.

kdaff51 writes:

in response to volndawgville:

In my day, a call would have been appropriate; however, today, I imagine a text might do.

And since this is a presumably a blind date with the seat, possibly the seat might 'instagram' you a picture.....

And since this a "blind date" what should I do if "she" is not up to expectations?

kdaff51 writes:

in response to volaholic45:

Speaking of thinking of ways to "grow the fan experience," what about redoing the seating to overcome Neyland's reputation as "One Cheek Stadium"? Seriously, Google it.

Had it not been for the fire marshall we would be calling it "half a cheek stadium".

GerryOP writes:

in response to pdhuff#552644:

Gerry of NY, does it ever bother you to be so right so much.

Good Vol

Hey pd, just quoting numbers. But, really, looking at the gross out of balance numbers, I guess we can see why Vandy guys are bragging about one victory. They don't have reason to celebrate very often.

But, using the terminology you introduced, in the doldrums everyone needs something to chatter about. And we're in the doldrums, extreme doldrums.

What're you thinking for the footVols this fall?

kdaff51 writes:

in response to ActualUTAlum:

Go to the games, win or lose, or you're not a fan. Period.

I'm tired of this "well I have HDTV" argument. So do I. And I go the games. Just so happens everyone's HDTV got so good when our win/loss record went south.

Pathetic.

I can buy a pretty good HDTV for the price of taking my family to a home game. The average fan is being priced out of the game.
I'll stay home with my HDTV

1. The beer is cold
2. No line at the restroom
3. Parking is free
4. I'm sitting next to people I like
5. The food is right there on the table
6. The beer is cold

Oh did I forget to mention traffic?

And using your theory, if you cant get a ticket to the game does that mean your not a fan?

90+ thousand show up for a game. What about the other thousands of people around the state and surrounding area that would like to go but can't because of distance, etc. I guess they are not fans either.

antonio14313 writes:

i have the best of both worlds: i live in nashville, so i watch the games mainly on tv. and i go to AT LEAST 1 game in knoxville per season, ever since 1998. and lastly, when our Vols play at vandy in nashville every 2 years, i'm at that one too. in orange and white, of course.

go vols!

t

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