USA Season Ticket Sales on Record Pace

The University of South Alabama surprised some people with the number of tickets they sold for their first two years of football, particularly considering the level of competition. What may be even more surprising now is that they are not only keeping up that pace, but surpassing it.

In the first year of football in 2009, USA sold a robust 8,424 season tickets and averaged 18,031 fans per game. Those numbers are impressive enough for a team just starting out, but when you consider that seven game home schedule consisted of the likes of Army Prep, Hargrave Military Academy, Fork Union Military Academy and D3 Huntingdon College (the only NCAA foe), it was downright amazing.

In year two, 2010, the season ticket momentum stayed high as they sold 8,433 and their attendance average went up to 18,765 per game. The quality of their opponents for their eight game home schedule also rose as they hosted an FCS team in Nicholls State and D2 teams like Henderson State and Arkansas Monticello.

With four months to go until the opening of the 2011 season, South Alabama stands poised to surpass its first two efforts. Season ticket sales for 2011 currently stand at 6,127, approximately 500 tickets ahead of last year's pace at this same point. With the novelty of the program certainly wearing off by now, how is it that the Jags are on a pace to sell around 9,000 season tickets, their highest total in their short history?

The answer is most likely twofold. First, South Alabama has yet to taste defeat. In year one, many people thought they would not be able to stand up to rosters like Hargrave and all of their highly recruited players, but the Jags dominated every team on their schedule. In year two, while not every game was a blowout, USA still rose to every challenge and extended their winning streak to 17-0. Fans have been left to wonder exactly how good this young program is. That has helped keep interest very high. The second factor must be that in 2011 USA finally begins the official transition to and NCAA FBS program. In 2011 the team is officially considered an FCS program and most of its home games are against FCS teams such as Cal-Poly, Lamar and Tennessee-Martin. Adding interest, although not directly contributing to the season ticket sales, will be the first matchups against FBS opponents, road games at North Carolina State and Kent State. Undoubtedly the progress of the program towards FBS status is adding fuel to ticket sale fire.

Although it is highly unlikely that the win streak will survive the season, it is very likely that the upward trend of season ticket sales will continue past this year. In 2012 USA will have road games NC State and Mississippi State and their home game schedule will very likely feature FBS competition from the Sun Belt. With a successful program, a good fanbase and an improving schedule to work with, it seems likely that we will be discussing another record-breaking pace around this time next year.

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