Mission: Season Ticket Sellout

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- It's an undoubtedly an ambitious goal, but North Carolina is aiming high in its efforts to sell out the Kenan Stadium season ticket allotment for the 2007 football season.

"Our goal is to sell out," said Rick Steinbacher, a former Tar Heel linebacker who is now the associate athletic director for marketing and promotions at UNC. "We've got an aggressive plan that is creative and fully leverages all the different groups working together – us [sports marketing], the Rams Club, the ticket office, [Athletic] Communications.

"It is a stretch goal, but we're going to do everything we can to get there."

According to Steinbacher, UNC sold approximately 30,000 season tickets for the 2006 season – as season tickets comprise 38,000 of the 60,000 seats.

Historically speaking, such goals usually aren't set when a program hasn't had a winning season the previous five years. But such is the importance of the arrival of new high profile head coach Butch Davis, that North Carolina is literally banking on his impact.

Davis brings not only instant credibility as a proven winner and nationally recognized name, but also fresh energy that is being felt by players, administrators and fans alike.

"He's injected a ton of enthusiasm into the football program," Steinbacher said. "So many people are fired up about Carolina football. I talk to boosters, I talk to fans, I talk to people in the athletic department – everyone is so excited about Coach Davis and what he can do for Carolina.

"But none of them are as excited as the players I talk to."

UNC's comprehensive ticket marketing plan began immediately after Davis was hired. In an effort to take advantage of the momentum, the ticket office started accepting season ticket orders several months earlier than usual.

"The response was outstanding," Steinbacher said. "We were over 7,000 season tickets sold prior to sending out our renewal forms. At that point last year we hadn't started selling."

In other words UNC was 7,000 tickets ahead of schedule for the 2007 season (which features six home games and is highlighted by South Carolina, Virginia and Miami).

The renewal forms mailed out in the early spring. This week, according to Steinbacher, UNC has surpassed the 20,000 mark for sold season tickets, with orders continuing to come in. The Rams Club (919-843-2000) has set a deadline of May 4 for season ticket orders.

"When Butch Davis agreed to become the head football coach at the University of North Carolina, there was a tremendous amount of excitement generated by that," Steinbacher said. "I think it demonstrated a strong commitment to football and we want our fans to feel excited.

"But we also want them to realize a bit of urgency because if they want to be a part of this thing, they need to jump on."

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