WVU News, Notes & Rumors – Aug. 27
With West Virginia’s football season opener quickly approaching, it seemed like an appropriate time to check on ticket sales at WVU. As of Monday, Aug. 27, the Mountaineers had sold 25,200 season tickets for the coming football campaign.
WVU sold just over 27,000 season tickets in 2017 and will be down about nine percent this year from its total last season. The sales these past two years represent the low marks for WVU in recent times, down from a high of just over 37,000 in 2012. That total has been decreasing each year since.
It’s not just a West Virginia problem either. The average attendance at FBS games last year was 42,203, which was a decrease of 1,409 (down 9.7 percent) from the year before and also was the lowest figure in more than 30 years. Even the vaunted SEC saw its attendance fall by 3.2 percent.
“Season ticket sales are a problem in all sports, not just intercollegiate athletics,” noted WVU director of athletics Shane Lyons in a recent interview with the Blue & Gold News. “Our media packages are so much greater that people have the ability to stay home and watch basically every game on their 60-inch TV. They don’t have to mess with parking, concessions and all that.
“We have to go back and evaluate everything we do,” he added. “Of course we’re in the middle of things now, so we’re not going to make any big changes for this year. But in the future we’re going to have to sit down and look at how we are marketing things and determine if it is the right way. Do we need to make changes? It’s just like everything in life; you have to adapt and adjust. I just read where Major League Baseball attendance is down over 10 percent. And the NFL’s attendance and viewership were down last year. We have to look at other opportunities and ways to attract fans. But to do something on the fly is irrational. I think you have to study it and look at changes in the future.
“Wherever our season ticket numbers end up, we have the opportunity to make that up in single-game ticket sales,” Lyons concluded. “We did that a couple years ago. Our season ticket sales were down a little bit, but we went 10-2 and people came out and supported us and we had full houses.”
Interestingly, despite the slumping season ticket sales, WVU’s overall home attendance has actually remained fairly steady. The Mountaineers’ average attendance for home games last year was 55,946, which was actually slightly higher than 2012 (55,916), despite selling 27 percent fewer season tickets in 2017 compared to six years prior. West Virginia has averaged better than 54,800 in terms of home attendance in 13 of the past 14 seasons with a high-water mark of 60,400 in 2007 and a low of 52,910 in 2013.
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The Mountaineers’ season ticket number may be a bit discouraging, but West Virginia hasn’t had any trouble selling tickets for the upcoming opener against Tennessee in Charlotte.
WVU officials report that they’ve sold slightly more than 15,000 tickets for the neutral site game against the Vols on Sept. 1 at Bank of America Stadium. Meanwhile Tennessee has reportedly sold just over 16,000 tickets through the UT website.
The secondary ticket market is still very active for this contest, which will be the first-ever meeting on the football field between West Virginia and Tennessee. Secondary sites like Stubhub and Ticketmaster have seats available with the starting price of $79 in the upper level going to $200 for the lower level.
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NFL teams have to trim their rosters to 53 by 4 p.m. on Sept. 1. There are currently 28 former Mountaineers in NFL camps hoping to make it through those cuts and be on active rosters when the pro season starts the next week.
Last year there were 20 former WVU players who were on active rosters for various NFL teams. After the NFL clubs cut their rosters to 53 active players, they can turn around the next day and start signing up to 10 additional players to their practice squads.
Here are the former Mountaineers currently in NFL camps:
Tavon Austin, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Donnie Barclay, OL, New Orleans Saints
Elijah Battle, DB, Seattle Seahawks
Kyle Bosch, OL, Carolina Panthers
Will Clarke, DL, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Antonio Crawford, DB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Justin Crawford, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Rasul Douglas, DB, Philadelphia Eagles
Maurice Fleming, DB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Terence Garvin, LB, Miami Dolphins
Shelton Gibson, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Mark Glowinski, OL, Indianapolis Colts
Najee Goode, LB Indianapolis Colts
Jarrod Harper, DB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Bruce Irvin, LB, Oakland Raiders
Pacman Jones, DB, Denver Broncos
Karl Joseph, DB, Oakland Raiders
Nick Kwiatkoski, LB, Chicago Bears
Adam Pankey, OL, Green Bay Packers
Charles Sims, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Wendell Smallwood, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Geno Smith, QB, San Diego Chargers
Quinton Spain, OL, Tennessee Titans
Keith Tandy, DB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ka’Raun White, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Kevin White, WR, Chicago Bears
Kyzir White, DB, San Diego Chargers
Daryl Worley, DB, Oakland Raiders
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Birthday of the week: Rasul Douglas. A first-team all-Big 12 cornerback in 2016, Douglas was born on Aug. 29, 1994 in East Orange, N.J. A third-round draft choice by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017, the soon-to-be 24-year-old Douglas is getting ready to start his second season with the defending Super Bowl champions.