Greetings Dave –
I read your column and appreciate your commentary. However, I suspect that as a sportswriter with clout (and access to ideal seating at games,) it occurred to me you might not understand some of the frustrations for the common UH fan.
My husband and I pour the majority of our (limited) entertainment dollars into UH sports. We held UH Men’s Basketball season tickets for 10 years. This year we gave them up, with sadness – because nearly all of the pre-conference games conflicts with our schedule, and we cannot justify the season ticket price if we could only attend less than half of the games. (Happily, I just renewed our Koa Anuenue sports package for baseball – whew!)
From our experience (ourselves, friends, and clients,) we see that a major deterrent for many locals is the lack of available seats – literally NONE available in the lower half of the arena or the first six rows of the upper section. Even now as I look to purchase tickets for future games, I am lucky to find a single ticket below the uppermost 10 rows of the upper section.
To be clear – we are satisfied with seats in the back – when the arena is actually full! Unfortunately the arena has been half-empty (mostly in the lower section) for many years.
We are not inclined to buy cheap tickets and move into the lower section – thus it is irritating to climb up, up, up the stairs and watch as most of the lower section remains empty for the entire game.
As if that isn’t bad enough, once we drive in for the game (over an hour) we are then forced to weave through the gauntlet of guys throughout the promenade who hawk tickets (yup – for those better seats – tickets which are not available through proper channels.) I know they are technically not “scalpers” because they sell the tickets for the same price as at the window. Even still, some sell fakes and tickets that have already been scanned – I watched that scenario play out a year ago when a friend purchased a ticket from a hawker and it was invalid. Big embarrassing bummer.
This last part really dampens the entire experience.
The lack of available seats and creeper hawkers have been a problem for basketball for as long as I can remember ( plus 10 years.)
My understanding is the bulk of unused tickets are held by companies (big donors, sponsors, etc) that couldn’t even pay their employees (or clients) to attend the game. So why does UH continue to give away the premium seats to groups who don’t use them? This archaic practice is one of the main reasons why attendance remains low, even as this team soars.
The simple fact is, UH deters fan attendance by its own system and design. This is an issue that merits prompt correction.
Regarding sponsors – how ironic that they waste the premium seats instead of returning them to UH – so that more people would attend, and their sponsorship would be exposed to so many more fans. talk about D’oh!
I wonder if UH could offer to make seats available to the donors/sponsors on a per-game basis. It could be referred to as “access to premium tickets” and offered for a limited time ahead of games, on a first-come basis. If the donor/sponsors do not make an effort to actually claim tickets, within a week of each game, those seats would be offered to the public.
Chances are that most of the unused premium seats would be available for purchase. “Average Joes” (such as myself, my husband, our neighbors, and pals) would would joyfully buy in …. and actually ATTEND the games!
And …. this would also virtually eliminate all the creepy hawkers!
Perhaps you could focus on this in an upcoming column.