Jump to content

Increasing JAR Attendance/Engaging the Fans


Recommended Posts

On 1/19/2024 at 3:17 PM, mrelegazna said:

My thoughts on this stuff:

 

1) If you live in Summit County, there's a fair chance that public transportation is an option to you to get to games and not have to pay parking. Don't be afraid of the bus.

 

2) Someone made this point earlier, but there's a tendency for people to think that attendance would improve if they addressed whatever their personal bugaboos are with respect to going to games, but people don't necessarily think like you (the royal you), so stuff that bothers you may not bother a lot of other people, and stuff you're not bothered by might be a problem for others.

In the macro, that means catering to/trying to pull in casual fans probably makes more sense financially than appeasing the diehards when those two groups are at odds.  

In the micro, I'm looking at start times. People are complaining about the 9PM starts, (that's only 3 of 14 home games, although I realize more could be added), and obviously that's being done for TV purposes. Are you sure it's better to tell CBS Sports Network/ESPNU/ESPN2(!) "no" to a 9PM start time, and forsake that TV money, and maybe get some more butts in the seats at the JAR, then it is to foresake those butts and get on TV? This is still a capitalist society and however we improve attendance is gonna take money. As lowly as you may think of UA marketing or athletics financial offices, I doubt they haven't bothered to look at the $ difference between 7PM ESPN+ start times vs 9PM CBSSN/ESPNU/ESPN2 start times.

P.S. I doubt a meaningful number of viewers are looking at empty seats on 9PM Friday or for Tuesday night football games and saying OH MY WORD HOW DISGRACEFUL I SHAN'T EVER ENTERTAIN THE NOTION OF WATCHING A GAME WITH THESE AKRON FELLOWS AGAIN AND MY SPORTING OFFSPRING FORSWEAR TO ATTEND THEIR INSTITUTION.

 

P.P.S. I include ESPN2 in this because if you haven't heard, our home game against Toledo is indeed on the Duece on Friday, February 2nd.  I am happy about this!

3) As far as societal changes with respect to going to games, I think Covid really messed that up - I must admit I am way less active and going out-y than I was pre-Covid - and I am not alone.  That's the only aspect of our attendance issues that really don't have much of an guess on how to resolve.  That said...

4) I think both camps are correct in this "promotional gimmicks!" vs. "promote the hell out of the great product on the floor!" debate.

 

These are only anecdotes, and anecdotes are not data.  But while I don't live in Ohio anymore, growing up in Akron, I went to a Zips football game that featured the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders performing at halftime (since they were able to be there during football season makes me think this must have been a season opener and probably and Acme-Zip game, speaking of promotions.)  I was probably 8 or 9. 

 

In front of us in the stands was an older couple, and the woman was wearing a Dallas Cowboys....bandanna?  I'm not sure what to call it.  Older women wore them all the time on their heads in the 80s or earlier.  Anyway, shortly after the third quarter started, they left.  8-year-old me was SO confused about this for about 5 minutes, before it dawned on me....they were only here to watch the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.

 

So, it's like how someone mentioned upthread about people buying tickets just to giveaways and not staying for the game.  Do I wish they would stay and become Zip fans and regulars? Of course.  But this is better than not coming at all, right? We get their money, we get to count them as paid attendance, and these are beneficial things, no?

Fast-forward about 15 years.  I drag my sister (pretty much hates sports) and brother-in-law (only cares about the Browns) to a Zips basketball game. Jimmal Ball era.  They had a GREAT time and LOVED it.  That's the thing about basketball, IMO, that hasn't been mentioned in this thread.  If you have good seats, which are plentiful in the JAR, it is thrilling.  No other sport can compare (again, my 2 cents here). We weren't even particularly good around this time!  We didn't even win the game I took them to (it was a close loss against Miami IIRC)!  

 

Now, full disclosure, this did not in fact make them lifelong Zip fans and the only other games they went to were because I went with them and paid for their tickets.   But if I can show these non-Zips, non-sports fans a great time simply by taking them to a game with good seats, imagine what is possible with people (students or otherwise) who already care a little bit?

 

I've also been told in this forum we used to indeed fill the JAR for pitched games vs. Cleveland State in the late 80s.  Mouse McFadden vs. Eric McLaughlin.  If true, how do we recapture that lightning in a bottle?  Should we start trying to schedule CSU/YSU yearly (perhaps even for home-and-homes) and promote the hell out of these now-dormant rivalries?  Probably not the worst idea. 

 

I also think we should partner as strongly as possible with the city of Akron to try to get the whole city aware of, and hopefully then excited about, the Zips.  Living in Texas now, the mucky-mucks at Baylor often point out that there's no real connection to the city it's in (Waco). It's like Baylor is its own city, Waco is its own, and the two don't care about the other.  If that's at all the case in Akron, it needs worked on ASAP.  I personally don't see much value in trying to get people from the surrounding counties, especially those with their own D1 schools or pro teams, to come support the Zips.  But this Akron's team, dammit.  Summit County's, too.  

 

I grew up in Akron.  North Hill. I hate the way people make fun of Akron.  I am up to my eyeballs in Akron pride.  Zips basketball could and should be a gift to the city.  The city and the university need to figure out a way to make that happen.

Thanks for your enthusiasm. I hate to bring up Wake Forest again, but here it goes. 

 

In particular, I agree with your notion of partnering with the City to promote athletics. Winston-Salem and Akron remind me so much if each other. It can be done. Anywhere you go in Winston, you will see Deactown banners on public light poles. It's used promotionally at every sporting event. It ties the City to the University. People in Kernersville aren't upset with the theme. Fans can even buy Deactown tshirts. https://www.bkstr.com/wakeforeststore/product/sst-1c-wf-deactown-black-sm---875357-1

 

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 minutes ago, GP1 said:

Thanks for your enthusiasm. I hate to bring up Wake Forest again, but here it goes. 

 

In particular, I agree with your notion of partnering with the City to promote athletics. Winston-Salem and Akron remind me so much if each other. It can be done. Anywhere you go in Winston, you will see Deactown banners on public light poles. It's used promotionally at every sporting event. It ties the City to the University. People in Kernersville aren't upset with the theme. Fans can even buy Deactown tshirts. https://www.bkstr.com/wakeforeststore/product/sst-1c-wf-deactown-black-sm---875357-1

 

 

Vandy is doing the same thing in Nashville & they've landed some recent recruits they otherwise wouldn't have but that's power 5 and a lot different 

Edited by AkronAlumnus
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Joe Akron is being Joe Akron as they always have (always will).  I got crucified when I brought this up around football attendance....the response was "we need to win".  Well, the Bball team has been a consistent winner and we still have the same problem.

Big issue to me is enrollment.  10 years ago we had 25K enrollment, today it is 11K (with 20% living on campus).  That doesn't even fill the upper bleachers.  We need to attract more kids to the school, fill the beautiful dorms that were built and then get those kids to the games.  They are a captive audience.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, a-zip said:

Joe Akron is being Joe Akron as they always have (always will).  I got crucified when I brought this up around football attendance....the response was "we need to win".  Well, the Bball team has been a consistent winner and we still have the same problem.

Big issue to me is enrollment.  10 years ago we had 25K enrollment, today it is 11K (with 20% living on campus).  That doesn't even fill the upper bleachers.  We need to attract more kids to the school, fill the beautiful dorms that were built and then get those kids to the games.  They are a captive audience.

 

The inverse of this is James Madison. Their applications and/or enrollment are up ~78% or something like that in the last few years (read this on their board). Their meteoric rise in athletics is driving the overall school enrollment. Their football team has won, and now their basketball team is having success. They've made the full move to DI, but built their brand at the FCS level (Game day went there when they were a FCS squad). I don't know how they were successful in breaking out of the shadows of Virginia, Virginia Tech, etc. - but they were. 

 

They are a case study that Akron needs to examine closely. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, a-zip said:

Joe Akron is being Joe Akron as they always have (always will).  I got crucified when I brought this up around football attendance....the response was "we need to win".  Well, the Bball team has been a consistent winner and we still have the same problem. 

I don't recall and crucifixion's? Those usually stand out.

 

Akron basketball "wins", and the arena is typically half full for reasonable opponents ("Reasonable" = OU, not Miami-Hamilton). It is completely full for Kent, and there are usually one or two other home games where there's 4k in the house.

 

For our Rocket Mortgage Championship games, there are roughly 7k+ Zips basketball fans in attendance. 

 

Drawing a parallel to football - If, like the basketball team, the Zips football team won 70% of their games and was in a MAC championship game once ever 2-3 years, most people expect InfoCison would be 1/2 full, just like the JAR. Attendance would be 20k+ for Kent. And if a winning Zips team met a winning Toledo team on a November Saturday for a berth in the MAC Championship at InfoCision, there would be roughly 20K fans expected.

 

The winning basketball team draws fine for mid-winter, weeknight NE Ohio games. Half-full arena. If the Zips football team won at an equivalent clip, the ratio would apply for InfoCision too. An average of 12-13k fans in attendance (butts in seats, not fabricated tickets sold).

 

I hope Moorhead can prove me right one day. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Let'sGoZips94 said:

 

The inverse of this is James Madison. Their applications and/or enrollment are up ~78% or something like that in the last few years (read this on their board). Their meteoric rise in athletics is driving the overall school enrollment. Their football team has won, and now their basketball team is having success. They've made the full move to DI, but built their brand at the FCS level (Game day went there when they were a FCS squad). I don't know how they were successful in breaking out of the shadows of Virginia, Virginia Tech, etc. - but they were. 

 

They are a case study that Akron needs to examine closely. 

100% And let me tell ya.....Harrisonburg VA is in the boonies.  They have done a masterful job connecting with alum and engaging the current students.

Edited by a-zip
none
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

i think if you had an Infocision level arena with a non-high school gameday experience, attendance would be respectable, but we'll never know. a nice place with nice seats, concessions open, places to buy UA gear, a winning team.. I think you need all of the above, and the FB and BB facilities each have a couple of those

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's like the chicken and the egg. UA will never feel the need to build a new arena because attendance is mostly embarrassing. Fans aren't going to the games because the arena sucks. This team is so good right now, they deserve both a respectable place to play and a decent turnout from fans. If we want people around NE Ohio, fans, students and even recruits to take the Zips seriously something needs to be done. It's long overdue. There's no reason that schools like Northern Kentucky and JMU can build fantastic new arenas and we can't. Even Duquesne put $45m into renovating their place for KD. While I think that solution is nearsighted and just polishing a turd, it's better than nothing.

 

By the time something actually happens Groce will be long gone and who knows what the state of Zips basketball will be when that happens.

Edited by akzipper
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, akzipper said:

 Fans aren't going to the games because the arena sucks. 

I don't know this is entirely true. I wouldn't sit in the bleachers. There a plenty of good seats, with backs, available. If someone buys one of those tickets, they will have a pretty good view of the game.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 minutes ago, GP1 said:

I don't know this is entirely true. I wouldn't sit in the bleachers. There a plenty of good seats, with backs, available. If someone buys one of those tickets, they will have a pretty good view of the game.

Just bought two for the Toledo game. $35 apiece after fees, it's an incredible value. That said, there's more to it than the physical seat as you are aware from your prior game day experience posts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, akzipper said:

It's like the chicken and the egg. UA will never feel the need to build a new arena because attendance is mostly embarrassing. Fans aren't going to the games because the arena sucks. This team is so good right now, they deserve both a respectable place to play and a decent turnout from fans. If we want people around NE Ohio, fans, students and even recruits to take the Zips seriously something needs to be done. It's long overdue. There's no reason that schools like Northern Kentucky and JMU can build fantastic new arenas and we can't. Even Duquesne put $45m into renovating their place for KD. While I think that solution is nearsighted and just polishing a turd, it's better than nothing.

 

By the time something actually happens Groce will be long gone and who knows what the state of Zips basketball will be when that happens.

 

Are you volunteering to pay for it? The University certainly is financially strapped at the moment. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Zips winning is #1 variable to grab my attention. I already purchased my Kent tickets upper reserved which will be my second game this season but I have been watching most games on ESPN+ / CBSSN. And because I love Riq and this team is GOOD I am hoping to go to Cleveland for the tournament. 

 

The two variables that keep me from going to the JAR more is:

 

1. Like everyone said it's just not that great of a building and the Kent games are the only atmospheres that are awesome. I went to Marshall and their basketball atmosphere is not any better but the seating set up is. 

 

2. No restaurants or bars close to the JAR. Yes I have done the Euro Gyro or Mannys thing pregame which is fun with my buddies but the wife isn't going to sign up for that. We have done Lockview pregame but parking twice is a pain. 

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 minutes ago, Franch1se said:

 

 

The two variables that keep me from going to the JAR more is:

 

1. Like everyone said it's just not that great of a building and the Kent games are the only atmospheres that are awesome. I went to Marshall and their basketball atmosphere is not any better but the seating set up is. 

 

2. No restaurants or bars close to the JAR. Yes I have done the Euro Gyro or Mannys thing pregame which is fun with my buddies but the wife isn't going to sign up for that. We have done Lockview pregame but parking twice is a pain. 

 

I don't know how many college athletic events I attend where I would describe the atmosphere as "awesome". Most are generally good. If someone is looking for an awesome event every time they attend a college athletics event, they need to lower their standards. 

 

I get the problem you have with local bars. They are fun but trashy. I wouldn't want those to be my options for every game. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 minutes ago, GP1 said:

I don't know how many college athletic events I attend where I would describe the atmosphere as "awesome". Most are generally good. If someone is looking for an awesome event every time they attend a college athletics event, they need to lower their standards. 

 

I get the problem you have with local bars. They are fun but trashy. I wouldn't want those to be my options for every game. 

Went to St Joes at VCU basketball a few years back on a Tuesday night. Atmosphere was incredible. Been to Rupp, Dayton, Villanova, Temple, Ohio State. By far the best. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Franch1se said:

Went to St Joes at VCU basketball a few years back on a Tuesday night. Atmosphere was incredible. Been to Rupp, Dayton, Villanova, Temple, Ohio State. By far the best. 

I've seen Wake Forest play Clemson. The atmosphere was awesome. I've seen them play Elon, Rice, Tulane and the atmosphere is just ok, but not bad.... certain not awesome. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

31 minutes ago, mrelegazna said:

 

jar.jpg

I would say I don‚Äôt hate¬†the jar. It has a good location on campus, close to the highway if you are just coming for a game. I have criticized the lack of concessions in the past, but they have done a good job recently with opening up multiple stands at the top of the stairs. The worst parts (to me) are the bleachers and the stupid bar that blocks the view from the upper level. The capacity is great for our program, when it does get full it is rocking, on games where it isn‚Äôt full, it isn‚Äôt ‚Äúdress like a seat night‚ÄĚ like infocision. Love the stat boards and the crystal clear video board. It could be much worse, but could also be improved with some renovations

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

56 minutes ago, mrelegazna said:

 

jar.jpg

No. It's a terrible area. Not sure what to do about it. The experience is something different. It's never going to be perfect, but it can be better. 

 

My advice to everyone is,  go to the games and have fun. Don't worry if there isn't a single other person there. Have your fun. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...