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UCF is making moves to fill stadium — one step at a time

Sports Editor

Published: Sunday, February 10, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 23:02

Blake Bortles

Stephen M. Dowell/MCT

Quarterback Blake Bortles scrambles away from a Ball State defender in the Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl. Bortles is one of many key returning starters in UCF’s first season in the Big East.

UCF has a major problem.

It’s no secret that UCF students aren’t quite as involved with the athletic program as they could be. It’s not a revolutionary concept that a half-empty football stadium and unfilled first-row seats at the UCF Arena are pitiful at the nation’s second-largest university.

For a school that boasts an enrollment of more than 60,000, there’s no reason to have zero sellouts out of six home games. It’s crazy to think there are about 15,000 more students enrolled at the school than there are seats at Bright House Networks Stadium.

Not to mention the 100,000 alumni that live in the Central Florida area, thousands of general sports fans in the city of Orlando and the thousand or so fans who come to support the other team.

From the outside looking in, the numbers just don’t add up.

But being on campus, talking to students and being one myself, it becomes clearer that the atmosphere at UCF just isn’t right.

Students, alumni and the general fan just don’t care enough.

It’s confusing for some people, it’s frustrating for the die-hard supporters and it’s disappointing for coaches and student-athletes.

But it’s something that UCF marketing is trying to change.

It’s not going to be easy, it’s not a one-man job and it’s long overdue.

But, hey, at least they’re trying.

UCF athletics announced season ticket information on Thursday that basically said this: “Please come to the games.”

They’re trying to get young alumni in the seats and they’re trying to get students involved, and that is exactly what they should do.

The fact that UCF is willing to keep tickets the same price and, in some cases, cheaper shows that they get it.

On the precipice of UCF’s most exciting season, one in which they host South Carolina and USF, they decide to lower prices.

Yes, the one time UCF could actually raise prices because of the obvious improvement of the on-field product (even if it isn’t an improvement on UCF’s end), they decide to meet alumni and general fans halfway and offer reasonable prices.

Your move, young alumni. Your move, students. Your move, dude who lives in Oviedo and always says that it’s too expensive to take his kids to a football game.

There’s no longer the excuse that UCF plays garbage teams from Conference USA. South Carolina, Rutgers and USF come to town next year.

And if you’re staying home because you’d rather watch a different college team on TV, or you think that boycotting the games will convince President John C. Hitt to fire George O’Leary, then forget it.

Fixing that kind of fan takes a whole lot longer, and usually requires some sort of voodoo.

But for those students who were on the fence, to the young alumni who really care but just couldn’t afford it in this economy — UCF athletics is reaching out to you.

And, if you look at the numbers, that might just be enough to get a couple of sellouts next year.

Because when there’s a sellout, everyone wins.

When Roth Tower shakes because too many people are jumping to the beat of zombie nation, there’s a smile on my face.

Hopefully you feel the same way.

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Thu May 23 2013 01:00
I forgot to add this. It's pretty sad and pathetic when your school's athletic dept basically begs people to come to the games. But hey, desparate times call for desparate measures. I remember one year, UCF hosted a thursday night espn night game. In order to fill the stadium and make themselves look better, UCF offered other local college students to attend the game and to fill the stadium. That is sad when UCF has to offer students from other schools to come to the game. I guarantee Florida doesn't have to do that to fill their 89,000 seat stadium!!!! (which is twice the size of UCF's)
Thu May 23 2013 00:48
I've got an idea to sell out a UCF sporting event? Schedule Florida!!!! The past few years the Gators baseball team has come to UCF, they have set record crowds (of course most of the fans are Gator fans). I guarantee if UCF volunteers to host Florida (especially in football), they will have a sellout, of course most will support the orange and blue. But UCF simply isn't good enough in sports to convince enough people to spend their $ and time. UCF never has been good enough and I don't see that changing any time soon, or really ever. Sorry but get used to seeing a lot of empty seats. UCF isn't a sports school. Students would rather party, go to the beach, tailgate and not attend the game, go to bars and clubs, watch other teams on tv, and do other things than attend a UCF sports game. When I was at UCF, I attended more Gator games than UCF games. Go Gators!
Sun Feb 17 2013 11:58
What kind of dope cares about football?
Mon Feb 11 2013 18:01
To your point, sometimes price doesn't matter. Sometimes it's just apathy. Consider last Wednesday, the men's basketball team was playing a very good Southern Miss team. As part of the festivities, about 150 athletes from other sports were showcased for having a 3.0 average or better. The woman's softball team and tennis team were also paraded out to center court. And when the 2nd half started, how many of the 200 student athletes were still in their seats to watch the game? Probably not 10. This was possibly the most disgusted I have ever been at a UCF event. If fellow athletes won't stay to cheer the team. why would members of the community trek out to the stadium to spend 4 hours?
Mon Feb 11 2013 12:24
I'm not sure the pricing points are going to "move the needle" as the saying goes, but at least they are not RAISING prices despite having a better schedule. What UCF needs to focus on are the single-game ticket prices and sales. Season ticket sales are what we want, of course, but not everyone wants to come to every game. Last year for the Missouri game, there were tickets on Ticketmaster upwards of $78 for a CORNER seat. End zone seats were $45. That is beyond asinine, and when combined with the sun-drenched September heat of a noon kickoff, the result was a paltry 35K in announced attendance (which was probably closer to 30K in actuals). No single-game ticket in that entire stadium should be more than $40. Endzone seats should be no more than $15, maybe $10. UCF should be focused more on filling up the stadium and building a fan base than trying to squeeze fans for every penny they can get.

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