Vandy ticket sales should be better

Home field advantage, it may not seem important to some at Vanderbilt but I believe it's important to any program that wants to be successful. Vice Chancellor and Athletics Director David Williams recently revealed that Vanderbilt's season tickets sales for the upcoming season sat at a "little over 16,000".

16,000? Vanderbilt just completed 3 bowl straight seasons (winning 2), two straight wins over their in-state rivals, and a season in which they beat Georgia, Florida and Tennessee the first time ever in the same year. It's astonishing that they can't build on that success by putting more fans in the stands.

How do you fill up the seats? Sell more tickets. The law of supply and demand is a key but prices affect that. As hard core as some fans are, they'll pick having food to eat over tickets any day. Keep in mind that Vanderbilt has eight home games this season. When you add home games season ticket prices go up. Prices for the non-conference contests (Temple, Old Dominion, UMass and Charleston Southern) are $35 each. While that doesn't translate directly into season ticket prices, the overall price of season tickets will still go up with extra games. Give Vandy credit though, they offered 2014 season tickets at 2013 (7 games) prices up until April. But as of now, when the hype of the season is upon us, season ticket prices are higher than last season.

Last year season ticket sales stood at 16,200 on August 19th but in 2012 Vandy sold a total of about 18,500 tix. In addition to the increased price of season tickets caused by extra games I think there is a second factor holding down the ticket sales. Vanderbilt played UT in Nashville in 2012 and will again this season. It is known that some UT fans will purchase Vandy season tickets in order to be assured of getting good seats for their team's games with the 'Dores. I believe the two straight wins over the Vols has dampened some Vol fan's appetite for purchasing tickets to the VU-UT contest at Vanderbilt Stadium. Vandy throttled the Vols in 2012 41-18 and then pulled off a last minute win in Knoxville last season which had to have ripped the hearts out of the Vol faithful. If some of these unsold season tickets are indeed Vol fan tix then that's good news to me.

Why is it so difficult for Vanderbilt to sell season tickets? It isn't because there aren't any Vandy fans. There are, it's just that Vanderbilt is a national university and has alumni scattered all over the country running corporations, arguing cases before state supreme courts, administering hospitals and doing other impressive things. The majority of the graduates from other SEC schools go on to live in the states where their school is located. More than likely they grew up in that state rooting for that team.

In addition, Vanderbilt is the only SEC school located just a few miles from two major sports franchises. Couple this with Vanderbilt's very small enrollment and you have a recipe for a marketer's nightmare.

In my opinion Vanderbilt has done well in attendance with the hand they have been dealt. When you add in the number of students, faculty and other ticket categories, Vandy will still have the majority of fans in Vanderbilt Stadium. Still, there must be some way to increase the number of Dore fans in the stands.

I've made some suggestions in the past and won't get into it again here. However, I do think the first priority should be to get the non-alumni sidewalk VU fan from the middle Tennessee area into the stadium. David Williams believes $35 a ticket for a non-conference game is very reasonable. I beg to differ. I know some sidewalk fans that live and die for the team. They work in fast food jobs and struggle to make ends meet. Let's figure out a way to make both season and single game tickets more affordable for these loyal VU fans without helping the hordes of other SEC fans take over Vanderbilt Stadium.

I don't have the answers but I bet there is someone who is smart enough to figure out a solution to VU's season ticket sales woes. I say get someone in there who has loads of experience in marketing in a tough market that has been successful. Pay that person well.

On a more positive note, it's now been 1,002 days since Vanderbilt lost a football game to the University of Tennessee.

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