Pitt Football: Bold plan to sell seats continues
Share with others:
Steve Pederson has made it clear that his top priority as Pitt's athletic director was to find a way to sell out Heinz Field for football games and do it on an annual basis.
Before last season, he implemented a pricing plan as well as a number of fan initiatives and increased access to parking, and the results were very positive as the Panthers increased their overall attendance by 60 percent and their season-ticket base by 50 percent.
But there is still work to be done as the Panthers sold only about 41,000 season tickets last year -- which is between 12,000-14,000 short of a sellout of the allotted season-ticket packages. The average attendance for home games was about 50,000, well short of the stadium capacity (65,050).
That's why the Panthers are undertaking another aggressive campaign to sell tickets -- starting with a slight reduction in prices and a major overhaul of the spring football game.
Pederson and some of his top marketing people met with members of the media yesterday to discuss the ticket packages as well as the new fan initiatives.
"I think with our ticket prices, given the state of things, we did what we believe is fair," Pederson said. "But we've always talked about putting fans first and that is what we really are pushing for. And we had a lot of positive feedback from what we did last year and we'd like to continue to build on that."
All of the season-ticket packages are $10 more this year because there is one additional home game this season (seven instead of six). That means the actual price per ticket is less even though the total price of the package is more.
Most of the lower-bowl seats and many upper-sideline seats are $154, up from $144 last year, which is $22 per game (down from $24 per game last season).
And as an added bonus, fans can save that extra $10 per season ticket order with a discount for registering online.
The other thing that has held steady is the required donations for club seats and for the lower sideline seats. They will again range from $50-$500 depending on location.
Beyond ticket prices, the athletic department also will bring back the family tailgate on Art Rooney Avenue, the Great Lawn tailgate for students, the Pitt band tailgate and the revised student shuttle bus program. And once again everyone who buys season tickets is guaranteed the opportunity to buy a parking pass.
The one major new development for this season is in regard to the Blue-Gold spring football game April 11.
"Brand new for 2009 is that, for the first time, our fans are going to get to interact with our football team on that Saturday at what we are calling the spring football festival," Pitt marketing representative Chris Ferris said. "It will be unlike anything we've done before, and like the regular football games, there will be something for everyone."
The spring football festival will begin at 12:30 p.m. (gates open at noon) April 11 with two events for fans -- a football clinic on the field for children 12-and-under conducted by Pitt players, and a "chalk talk" and question-and-answer session for fans conducted by the coaching staff in the club lounge.
Both events are free and will be followed by the Blue-Gold game at 2 p.m. There also will be an autograph session on the plaza and in the Great Hall as well as live entertainment, games and other activities to give the spring game a festival atmosphere.
"We're excited for this new opportunity for our fans to interact with our football team," Ferris said. "We want to expand the opportunity for our fans to be a part of our program. This will be a great opportunity for kids to interact with our team and for our fans to interact with our coaching staff."
Pederson added, "The greatest thing we have going here at Pitt is great people, whether it be our staff or our students, and I love any opportunity people have to interact with them.
"The thought of one of our players taking a group of 15 or 20 kids and working with them down on the field is special."
NOTE -- Season tickets are on sale at pittsburghpanthers.com or by calling the ticket office, 1-800-643-7488 or 412-648-7488.
First Published March 3, 2009 12:00 am