Stadium and Season Tickets Surging

How exciting can June be for Stanford Football? This cannot be the case every year, but the answer in 2006 is "sizzling." That is an apt descriptor for the construction activity in the new Stanford Stadium today, with seats installed and the Skybox taking shape. Following suit, season ticket sales are surging and have hit some impressive marks.

Stanford Football may be in a lull of visible on-field player activity, sandwiched between the April spring practices and May workouts and the coming unofficial sessions of the summer.  But as most Cardinalmaniacs™ can tell you today, the activity surrounding the new Stanford Stadium is cranking at a feverish pace.  Webcam watching addicts know that construction has moved into a couple titillating areas in the past couple weeks.  No longer just an abstract bowl of dirt, concrete and steel, the nascent stadium is taking shape with seats now installed in nearly the entire upper level.

Particularly exciting to this credentialed Stanford reporter is the rapid construction of the modernistic and magnificent press box.  Actually, we have to wean ourselves off the term "press box" as the four-level glass structure has been named the Skybox.  Holding much more than the press, the new Skybox has a level of luxury suites plus amenities that cater toward the highest premium sections of season ticket holders.  Steel and concrete now give us a good idea of what the Skybox structure will take, with the interior finishings and glass windows still to come.  On the exterior face of the stadium away from the field, the mammoth Stanford "S" logo has been pieced together.

The official word this week is that the stadium is on schedule for its September 16 opener against Navy, just over three months away.  Rain in recent months has exceeded anything seen in the area in decades, which is cruel timing for the first new stadium construction in 85 years on The Farm.  To keep the construction schedule on track thus far is thus an improbable and awesome accomplishment.

It is not a coincidence that ticket sales are surging with this visible bustle of activity in the home of Stanford Football.  Recently, an important milestone was reached, with season tickets plus out-of-circulation tickets moving well past half of the capacity of the 50,000-seat stadium.  At this time, approximately 42% of the stadium is still available for sale.  Some of the fastest selling sections have been the Alumni, Faculty/Staff and Family Plan sections - the first two of which have sold out, and the third is on target to sell out by the season opener.

There is no question that the demand for season tickets at Stanford Stadium is hot.  Adding up the season tickets sold for the 2005 season, Stanford has already exceeded that final number by approximately 50% in 2006.  Considering that the fall season is still three months away, and season ticket sales began just over four months ago on January 29, the progress is very impressive.

"We're working toward sell-outs, and it appears that we are well on our way to reaching our goal," says athletic director Bill Walsh.

In the Spring issue of The Bootleg Magazine, we featured an exclusive sit-down interview with Walsh on the subject of Stanford Stadium and his focus on season ticket sales.  Walsh told us then that his goal was a sold-out Stanford Stadium, but even a 75%-sold stadium would add $3.5 million of new revenue to the Athletic Department.  Double that number to take into account the increase in donations for boosters and corporations to sit in the premium sections and luxury boxes.  Recently running a budget deficit of $3-plus million, Stanford Athletics is headed back to the black and into a new world of possibilities.

Walsh also told us in that interview that the first phase of season ticket sales would be directed toward repeat customers.  He offers the same message today, with marketing and programs aimed toward new ticket holders to watch Stanford Football about to be unveiled. 

"Our ticket sales efforts have been focused on our current season ticket holders," Walsh offers.  "Now that they've been seated, our efforts will shift aggressively toward selling to the general public."

Individual tickets will go on sale July 3, though ticket sales managers are still today and will continue going forward to push on season ticket sales.  One benefit Stanford believes has boosted their sales activity is their pricing.  In 2005, season ticket prices ranged between $170 and $200.  The market research Stanford conducted in the fall and winter told them that the public expected a sharp increase in prices given the overwhelming improvements in sight lines, facilities and amenities.  Coming under that expectation, Stanford in 2006 is selling season tickets between $180 and $275.

"Based on our market research, people were expecting a 50% increase in ticket prices.  With the new amenities and features, people are excited," says Marie Vasquez, public relations and community relations specialist for the Stanford Stadium project.  "We actually introduced ticket prices below what people anticipated."

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