Bearcat Insider members posted a number of questions regarding attendance at the University of Cincinnati football games, and Mike Waddell, Senior Associate Director of Athletics for External Operations, was more than happy to take time on Sunday afternoon to discuss the pressing issues.
After two Thursday night home games that drew 20,223 and 25,020 fans respectively, some Bearcat football fans are proving they want to take more ownership of the program by questioning how attendance figures are derived. Mike explained the simple process of the turnstiles versus the scanning of tickets. "Every fan that walks through a turnstile is counted in our attendance, and there are turnstiles at every gate. The turnstile count is what we use in arriving at our attendance for that night, not the scanning of tickets. Our ushers and other personnel do scan many of the tickets when fans enter Nippert Stadium, but that information is used internally so we know where are crowds are entering. I might add that our ushers are all trained and many are used by the Reds and the Bengals so they are very familiar with the process." Fans that buy tickets but do not attend the game are not counted in the attendance totals.
Waddell feels the early crowds have been what he expected. "Our projections for the two home games have been pretty much what we got. With school not yet in session, we were pleased with the attendance of the two Thursday night crowds, but the next two home games project in the 30,000 range or higher."
The next two home games will be on Saturday, September 22 against Marshall (7:36 p.m. kickoff) and the homecoming game against Louisville on Saturday, October 13 (kickoff TBA).
One point that was clear from our discussion is that UC is not going to give out large numbers of complimentary tickets, or offer half price discounts to artificially inflate the attendance. "Our first priority is to protect the price integrity of our product and the investment that our fans have made in purchasing season tickets. While we will not have two for one deals as in past years we have just introduced a mini-season ticket for the remaining home games as through September 21, for only $88, a patron can get a reserve ticket for the remaining four home games."
Some fans have been disappointed with concession stands running out of food by halftime of games. Waddell also spoke to that issue. "We've had a bigger walk-up crowd than usual which is a good problem to have. Normally we'd have 3,000 to 3,500 walk-ups, but these Thursday games have had between 4,000 to 6,000 walk-ups."
That unusually high walk-up crowd may have been part of the problem for the people who run the concession stands, but the Cincinnati administration has recognized this problem and is working with this company to remedy it. "We've addressed these issues with the people that work the concessions and will be meeting with our outside concessions partner ARAMARK this week and will be mapping out a solution and have it in place prior to the Marshall game. We certainly don't want to make it a practice of running out of food for our patrons. Our intent is to have 25-50 vendors working the in the stands to sell base concessions and ease the traffic at the concession stands."
The UC Athletics staff has seen another problem that further complicates the concession stand issue. "It would really help if fans watched the game from their seats. We probably have over a few thousand fans at various points in every game standing in the concourse area socializing and that causes a gridlock, especially on the west (press box) side. Having the vendors in the stands should help these people get served and lessen the need to leave the great show on the field that Coach Kelly and the Bearcats are putting on."
Cincinnati fans could also help congestion getting into the stadium if they headed for their seats at least thirty minutes prior to kickoff. "We want everyone to have a good time at the game and enjoy the tailgating, but there's a reason we shut down all our events thirty minutes before the start of the game." Waddell continued. "If everyone waits until kickoff to head into the stadium, there are going to be lines and the team will not have a maximum impact welcome just before kickoff. ‘Come Early... Be Loud and Wear Black' is our theme, and we need fans to buy in on all three fronts, starting this week in Oxford against Miami in the Battle for the Bell and throughout the rest of this season and beyond."
The Cincinnati marching band and the Game Operations staff are in constant communication during games to try and prevent the overlapping of music and to make sure that the game presentation is as tight as possible. "This past week's game went better than week one as we mic'd the band to get their sound louder in the stadium. Having a few games under our belt at UC is no different than the NFL teams who get preseason games to work out their kinks. Our staff is part time and does a great job, as does Dr. Frenz and the marching band. There is no reason why we cannot have a mix of band and CATSVISION elements in our game presentation."
If any Bearcat fan has concerns or information pertinent to any of these issues, Mike would like to hear from you. His e-mail address is email@example.com.