U. basketball fans voice their opinions

first_imgA story last week about dwindling attendance at University of Utah basketball games elicited a bunch of responses from Deseret Morning News readers.Ticket prices seem to be one factor that has been glossed over by Ute administrators, while parking problems are another. Here’s how a few readers view the declining attendance situation, along with my responses: “I have been attending games as a season-ticket holder for a number of years and have been concerned about the decline in attendance. The reasons listed in your article are all contributing factors, but the one that I believe is the primary factor is the price of tickets and the mandatory Crimson Club donations to get seats below the concourse. Prices have steadily increased over the years, and there was another increase in the required Crimson Club donations this past year. In my neighborhood alone, I know of at least 20 former season-tickets holders who have quit purchasing season tickets because of the price increases. The university seems to ignore the thousands of dollars these people have paid over the years to support the athletic programs. While asking for loyalty and support, the U. does not reciprocate with any loyalty to those who have consistently supported the U. over the years. The high prices also account for many younger persons with young families not attending. With the high prices and nearly all games being shown on TV, the decision not to attend is an easy one to make.” — H.V. Price could be the main factor in decreased attendance. The prime seats in the lower half of the arena cost as much as $50 per ticket per game when you include the mandatory Crimson Club donation. Some fans don’t want to spend that much money on sports. “The parking has been a fiasco this year. Two years ago, there was free busing to the Huntsman from the ARUP parking lot. Last year there was free passage on TRAX from the football stadium. This year early on, there was free parking east of the Huntsman Center, but prior to the conference season and without ever saying anything to season-ticket holders, they began charging $5 parking on what was previously free. Ute officials have not addressed the loss of remote parking transport by bus, did not give any indication to ticket holders that TRAX was not free this year, and have not addressed the sudden unannounced charge for what was listed in the parking literature sent with season tickets as free parking. Many season-ticket holders feel they have been suckered by this bait-and-switch approach.” — G.L. True fans will come out despite any parking obstacles. But it’s the little things that keep the marginal fans from coming, and those are the fans the U. is trying to get. “Just a suggestion to the Ute marketing department: Either give tickets away, especially to the games where the opposing team is not that good, or allow fans to purchase them at a discounted price. BYU has been doing this for years, especially this year. I have had the chance to go to four different BYU games this year either free or for a minimal cost. This is seriously a good way to get fans into the seats. Chances are, they will be willing to pay full price for future games, especially considering how well the Utes are doing.” — D.M. Oh, so THAT’S how a 9-16 basketball team is outdrawing the 22-3 Utes this year. Actually the U. does have reduced prices for some higher-up tickets, but I don’t think free tickets will be an option. “I don’t know why you media folks are so fixated on the attendance. There are colleges and universities all over the country that would love to have 9,000 people in the stands: Colorado State, Air Force, San Diego State, to name a few. I go to every game I can, although I am not a season-ticket holder, and the atmosphere is always great, full seats or not. I don’t need a sold-out arena to enjoy the game.” — L.P. I agree the atmosphere at a game is much better than watching on TV. But it’s worth reporting that U. attendance has dropped by more than 4,000 in six years and is the lowest average in 29 years despite an exciting, ranked team with one of the better records in school history. “I liked the article, but maybe you and the rest of the Utes’ staff could just come right out and say that the Utes have fair-weather fans. Just imagine what the season-ticket sales are going to be when the Aussie is gone.” — P.M. If the Ute followers were “fair-weather” fans, they’d be filling the Huntsman Center this year. The fact is, there are a lot fewer fans this year than for a couple of recent mediocre seasons.I’ll bet attendance improves next year as the U. upgrades its schedule, gets rid of late Monday games and addresses some other problems. Unfortunately, a lot of Ute fans are missing out this season on seeing one of the best players ever to don a Ute jersey. UTE NOTES:Andrew Bogut is featured in a four-page spread called “Aussie Rules” in the Sports Illustrated issue that hit the stands Thursday . . . Saturday’s game at Air Force will be televised on KJZZ-TV at 1 p.m . . . Monday’s game at New Mexico will be at 7 p.m., also on KJZZ . . . There are still plenty of tickets available for the Utah-BYU home game on Feb. 26 . . . Of the eight first-round sites for NCAA tournament games, the Utes have been to four over the past 15 years — Nashville (2003), Cleveland (2000), Boise (1995, 1998) and Tucson (1991, 1997). The other four first-round sites are Indianapolis, Charlotte, Oklahoma City and Worcester, Mass . . . The West Regional this year will be held at The Pit in New Mexico . . . Utah’s 17-game winning streak is the second-longest in the nation behind Illinois. Speaking of second-longest, Air Force has the second-longest home winning streak in the nation at 24. Utes on the air No. 14 Utah (22-3, 10-0) at Air Force (15-9, 6-3)Saturday, 1 p.m.TV: KJZZ, Ch. 14Radio: KALL 700AM E-mail: [email protected]last_img