PSU Basketball: A Hard Sell


#1

A column by Jones that hits the nail on the head.

From the Hbg Patriot


#2

[quote=“UncleLar, post:1, topic:517”]A column by Jones that hits home pretty hard.

From the Hbg Patriot[/quote]

I will take exception with a couple of his remarks though.

“But they are selling a sport that people in this state, by and large, have never embraced”

I wouldn’t portray that as a statewide problem. Philly loves hoops and Pitt sells out their arena.

“There always is something available. And considering how many chairs go unused by Nittany Lion Club members only in it for the football”

I hear this often, and I can’t fathom why. There is nothing - zip, zada, zero - football benefit to be gained by buying basketball season tickets. You don’t get Nittany Lion Club points for hoops ticket purchases. Also, people that made the $10K and $25K donations to the building of the Jordan Center and which got them the courtside seats did not get Nittany Lion Club points for said donation so there was no football benefit gained.

Many of the people who made those contributions, and who continue to buy season tickets. do so because they think, rightly or wrongly, that they are supporting the basketball program and/or their University. It has nothing to do with football.


#3

Philly was/is a Basketball Meca. Pittsburgh has/had it’s moments. Center PA well…It is a horse of a different color.
A hard sell YES, but it should NOT be looked at as impossible.
Night travel in the area can be more than difficult. It can be deadly. I drove from Pgh to State College yesterday and saw 3 large trucks over turned. Chance…maybe. It was a clear day.
These are reasons PSU has to target the students. Students (like adults) can be trendy. They like winners more than losers. BUT they have to be marketed! Hard. I think PSU should have FREE students tickets for a couple of years. PLUS incentives (give a ways.) Buses should be picking up students from the dorm areas to travel to BJC. Each dorm area should have a mini pre-game pep rally. A couple of band members and a couple of cheerleaders to help the buses fill.
Does PSU have a Marketing dept? Marketing classes? Set up student work projects in these classes to MARKET students to attend basketball games. Ideas, Ideas, Ideas

PLEASE PLEASE no one say…“If they win they will come.” We don’t win (few NCAA tourneys) often. We can’t wait “to win.”


#4

It has to do with football by the fact that they can buy these pre-mo seats based on their NLC contributions, that for 99% of them has been because of football tickets. I was never really in favor of the move to link basketball tickets with NLC points in the first place, although I understand they had to do something to recognize some of the larger donors who did a lot to make the BJC happen in the first place.


#5

The title implies the article is again going to bash PSU Hoops, it was nice to read Dave really did not do that, and he pointed out we do have a pretty exciting team. My wife and I are season ticket holders and drive 150 miles (each way) and attend every game (except those that occur during snowstorms). I do realize we are the rare fan, as only two or three cars with PSU magnets seem to “follow us home” so to speak. The crowd has been this way as long as I can remember. I have attended almost every game since 89. In those days season tickets were free to students, I used to get in line a whopping 2 hours early and get front row (this was back in rec hall of course). The marketing for the BJC is terrible, they should all be fired. The food is bad and the prices are insulting. Students should get in free when classes are not in session, and the season ticket holders that do not attend any games should lose their great seat locations. Since seats are going to be shuffled in Beaver Stadium soon, this would be a perfect opportunity to notify season ticket holders that if they do not attend games their seats will be moved.

I would love to have a non-conference game when students are out of town at rec hall, a throw-back game. I bet they could get Parkhill to announce the game, hell, admission could be free for everyone, festival seating. I am sure a few people would attend and be like, wow, this is fun, I am going to go to a few more PSU hoop games this year. Why give people a stupid blinkie shaker when you could hand them a dvd of highlights from last year?


#6

There are a lot of challenges for PSU hoops that football doesn’t face. Hoops games are primarily in the Winter/cold months at night during the week (with an occasional Sat./Sun. afternoon game). Football games occur on Saturday during the beautiful fall months (this year’s mid-October snow storm notwithstanding). Football has evolved into a three day event that happens to have a football game associated with it. Hoops can’t do this for weeknight games. Weekend games? Maybe in the future.

Hoops also has the challenge that many games are scheduled in December when students (who should be the foundation of your fan base) are prepping for and taking exams, going home for holidays, or otherwise distracted.

The fan base is an issue. However, as the Centre area grows, the ability to go to reasonably priced hoops games mid week should be attractive as long as the product on the floor is competitive.

Last week’s VATECH game showed that even in the doldrums of December, a quality opponent can lead to a large crowd. As the program evolves, hopefully the Gardner-Webb’s of the world will be replaced by big name opponents. Once we get into the Big Ten season, the crowds will be there.

The program is on the upswing. Having a committed Penn Stater at the helm is a key - I don’t think Ed could be enticed to go anywhere else. As the program gets better, the crowds will improve and then become self-sustaining.

The Alumni Association could help here: How about running buses that leave from Williamsport, Altoona, Harrisburg, Wilkes-Barre and get to the game half an hour before game time and return after the game.


#7

That’s ridiculous. If this was a good program, or if we had some good teams, people would come. Nobody goes to Rutgers games and they’re right in the shadow of New York city. But if they brought in some good recruits and made the tournament a few times, they’d sell out. We’ve drawn 10,000 people to games against Temple and VaTech the last couple years, not huge games by any means, and it proves that people WANT to want to go to Penn State basketball games. They just have no incentive, no interesting team to watch.


#8

Good post Santini. I am not looking for an argument. BUT the phase “the program is on the upswing” has been used before in the past 40 years .What will our league record be this season? I am not disagreeing with this phase, my point is the PSU Administration has to MARKET the team to ATTEMPT to fill the BJC most games EVERY season.
There has to be an answer. This may call for special circumstances for several seasons until the team and the fans get near the top of the swing. Putting fannies in seats CAN to done. PSU has to be creative!
When the BJC was built NO ONE DREAMED the Black Curtains would appear. PSU is thinking too low. Market to FILL the BJC. Have a “Burn the Curtains” ceremony! Then start the NEW MARKETING PROGRAMS.


#9

This would be a good start:

Market Square Arena Implosion


#10
[quote="UncleLar, post:2, topic:517"]...Many of the people who made those contributions, and who continue to buy season tickets. do so because they think, rightly or wrongly, that they are supporting the basketball program and/or their University. It has nothing to do with football.[/quote]

It has to do with football by the fact that they can buy these pre-mo seats based on their NLC contributions, that for 99% of them has been because of football tickets. I was never really in favor of the move to link basketball tickets with NLC points in the first place, although I understand they had to do something to recognize some of the larger donors who did a lot to make the BJC happen in the first place.

That’s not really true. The pre-mo (sic) seats were allocated based on the $10K or $25K contribution given to build the BJC. The people that own those seats that sit empty got them by donating bucks for the building. Now it’s true that seat selection WITHIN the contribution levels were done by NLC points but you could have gotten great courtside seats with zero NLC points just by giving the $10K or $25K. It’s just a coincidence that the donors for the BJC happen to be many of the same people who annually give to the NLC and who have football tickets. But no money that they gave did anything to improve their football tickets so I fail to see how people think that football had any impact at all. The same people would have been in those seats whether they were hooked to NLC points or not. They may not have gotten the exact same seats because the selection order might have been different (and what criteria do you think they should have used - alphabetical order ??? ) but all the seats would have gone to the same people, just rearranged some.


#11

I work at an advertising agency. I believe in marketing.

The combination of too many bad seasons, the lack of traditional interest in basketball in the rural areas of the state, and the relatively small population within easy driving distance is something that, in my opinion, no amount of marketing will be able to significantly overcome.

On the other hand, if we continue to improve, we will have great crowds even for Gardner-Webb. The challenge then will be how to manage the fat cats who want the weekend games and the locals who don’t want to sit above a bowl of empty seats for the weekday games.

But there will be demand, I guarantee it.


#12

Better OOC teams at home would help. Maybe you have to play away first, but what do you think the turnout would be vs. the likes of Texas, UConn, Syracuse, Pitt? It can be done. For two years now, Michigan is using a spot in January to play an OOC game. They have Big 10 games on Jan 14th and 20th and are hosting UConn on the 17th. Why not do something like that? PSU has a game on Thursday, Jan 7th, then Tuesday the 12th. Why not a Sat or Sun game in between? A win vs. a Nova or the likes would certainly help tourney chances. Also, talk about marketing, how about having scheduled either Kansas or Nova and build some buzz about Battle vs. Collins or Reynolds? Once Talor’s gone, this opportunity will be gone. Why wait? Could’ve been done last year. And the team played so well late last year, a win in a game like that might’ve tipped the scales for an NCAA appearance. Ed needs to gamble a bit. Minny’s beating of Louisville made the difference for them last year.


#13

Tundra - I understand the “we’ve heard this before” reticence. I do think the program is on the upswing. I think this is the most talented team Ed has had since he has been here. I think it may be as good as the Joe Crispin/Cline-Heard/Titus Ivory team that went to the Sweet Sixteen and may be as good as the top teams in the Parkhill era. Those teams were senior dominated - this team is underclassmen dominated. We may be a year away from another good run.

Two years ago, before the injury to Geary, we were a lock for the NIT and maybe an NCAA bid.

Last year, we competed for an NCAA bid and, but for a kid shooting lights out in Iowa City, we would have had an NCAA bid. We won the NIT instead.

This year will be tough - the league is much better this year. But I think there is acknowledgment of that fact throughout the NCAA hoops world, so maybe our league record won’t have to be as good as it had to be last year to get a bid.

This year the talent is up (agree that some of it is raw). Getting the Taran Buie commit after the NIT and getting the Peter Alexis commit for 2011 is huge. What this all means is that when Talor and company leave, the talent won’t fall off the cliff - it may be better.

And I do believe in marketing.

Here’s an idea: They open up the BJC for Tailgreat three hours before football kickoffs. How about if we open up the Mount Nittany Club and/or Letterman’s Lounge for two hours before hoops tipoffs?


#14

[quote=“tjb, post:11, topic:517”]I work at an advertising agency. I believe in marketing.

The combination of too many bad seasons, the lack of traditional interest in basketball in the rural areas of the state, and the relatively small population within easy driving distance is something that, in my opinion, no amount of marketing will be able to significantly overcome.

On the other hand, if we continue to improve, we will have great crowds even for Gardner-Webb. The challenge then will be how to manage the fat cats who want the weekend games and the locals who don’t want to sit above a bowl of empty seats for the weekday games.

But there will be demand, I guarantee it.[/quote]
You left out the approximately 40,000 students. Many within walking distance. People are “trendy.” If marketing firms can get much of the public to pay $3.00 or so for a small bottle of water when free drinking fountains are available then they should be able to put 10,000 student fannies in the BJC.


#15
[quote="tjb, post:11, topic:517"]I work at an advertising agency. I believe in marketing.

The combination of too many bad seasons, the lack of traditional interest in basketball in the rural areas of the state, and the relatively small population within easy driving distance is something that, in my opinion, no amount of marketing will be able to significantly overcome.

On the other hand, if we continue to improve, we will have great crowds even for Gardner-Webb. The challenge then will be how to manage the fat cats who want the weekend games and the locals who don’t want to sit above a bowl of empty seats for the weekday games.

But there will be demand, I guarantee it.[/quote]
You left out the approximately 40,000 students. Many within walking distance. People are “trendy.” If marketing firms can get much of the public to pay $3.00 or so for a small bottle of water when free drinking fountains are available then they should be able to put 10,000 student fannies in the BJC.


Not if we are a losing program playing teams that only the die-hard basketball fans will have heard of. I agree that nearly no amount of marketing will fill the BJC, especially against these teams, until the product on the court is a consistently winning program - and I’m not just talking about 1 27-win season and a 6-4 record against this said OOC sched - even having 4 losses already against this slate is not very good for the casual fan.

Let me clarify - the ONLY reason that I typed “nearly no amount” is because I suppose that I would never know if there is truly NO way till all possible marketing ploys have been done. We just need to win consistently for a few years and people will come. Just through the 4 years that I have been a student I have seen a DRAMATIC change in student perception/ basketball. Last year really helped to change that perception, but I could see it already beginning to change the year before. That’s what marketing can do for you, along with an upgrade in talent - begin to change the perception of PSU basketball, but the team ultimately has to put the fannies in the seats, finish the transformation.

Really, the PSU basketball program is like night and day now compared to when I came as a freshman.


#16

One more observation: PSU basketball seems to play the “we are only a few points from being -insert better record here-.” From a marketing standpoint, that’s what we need to do - show some optimism, and since we lost those games, we need to take any optimistic angle that we can. However, the funny thing is - yes, as PSUSTRETCH (on Twitter) pointed out, we are only 9 points away from being 9-1, but we are also only 6 point away from being 3-7.

Actually, if you want to break it down, we are not “just 9 points away from being 9-1.” Tulane was 63-60, therefore we would have needed to score 4 more points to win that game. Temple was 45-42, therefore we would have needed to score 4 more points to win that game. VaTech beat us 66-64, therefore we would have needed to score 3 more points to beat them. That makes us 11 points away, not 9. That’s nitpicking and irrelevant though, I know.


#17

[quote=“tjb, post:11, topic:517”]I work at an advertising agency. I believe in marketing.

The combination of too many bad seasons, the lack of traditional interest in basketball in the rural areas of the state, and the relatively small population within easy driving distance is something that, in my opinion, no amount of marketing will be able to significantly overcome.

On the other hand, if we continue to improve, we will have great crowds even for Gardner-Webb. The challenge then will be how to manage the fat cats who want the weekend games and the locals who don’t want to sit above a bowl of empty seats for the weekday games.

But there will be demand, I guarantee it.[/quote]

How about a first-come first-serve policy for all but a small section of seats, for the fat-cats? Give them 1/4 of the bottom bowl and let everyone else fill up the rest of the bottom bowl as they get there.

If you start selling out games in the near future, you can always change the policy back - but I see no reason why there should ever be people up in the rafters when there’s plenty of seats open below them.


#18
[quote="UncleLar, post:1, topic:517"]A column by Jones that hits home pretty hard.

From the Hbg Patriot[/quote]

I will take exception with a couple of his remarks though.

“But they are selling a sport that people in this state, by and large, have never embraced”

I wouldn’t portray that as a statewide problem. Philly loves hoops and Pitt sells out their arena.

“There always is something available. And considering how many chairs go unused by Nittany Lion Club members only in it for the football”

I hear this often, and I can’t fathom why. There is nothing - zip, zada, zero - football benefit to be gained by buying basketball season tickets. You don’t get Nittany Lion Club points for hoops ticket purchases. Also, people that made the $10K and $25K donations to the building of the Jordan Center and which got them the courtside seats did not get Nittany Lion Club points for said donation so there was no football benefit gained.

Many of the people who made those contributions, and who continue to buy season tickets. do so because they think, rightly or wrongly, that they are supporting the basketball program and/or their University. It has nothing to do with football.

I also take exception with some of the points that Jones is making. That line about the state embracing hoops - I see that as a huge generalization, the state has never embraced PSU hoops because there hasn’t been much to embrace. For basketball in general, you can’t make that conclusion with a throw away sentence like that. I guess that is Jones’ subtle commentary on central Pennsylvania - save it for a political article.

I think the biggest challenge is the fact that fans won’t travel as far for a weeknight game. However, I would bet you’d see a good number of fans coming from Harrisburg, at least for the higher profile games, if the team put together a streak of successful seasons and had some more highly anticipated regular season matchups. That 40 mile radius will improve with success. And the largest attendance increase, IMO, will come from students. They will show up when the team is successful on a fairly regular basis, and the games will become more of a social event to attend. It may take a few years, but I don’t think this is an impossible sell. The local community and students would embrace a successful program, just like they do at so many other large state universities in rural areas.


#19

As long as the team is competive, there’s no reason they can’t average 10,000+ like they did in 98-99 and 00-01 when both squads had NCAA aspirations.

To me, the key is focusing on getting as many students as possible to attend week-night games. Under Ed, Penn State has had announced crowds of 10,000-plus 22 times, and 17 of those were on Saturdays. Whether the state “embraces” Penn State basketball or not, people just won’t/can’t drive 1-2 hours to watch a basketball game on a weeknight. Last year’s Illinois game is proof that, if there’s enough hype, the students will come out in full force. I would do whatever it takes to get as many students there, because they’re the ones who create the atmosphere and make the noise.

I really like the Flex Plan concept, and I really think attendance will spike more than usual once Big Ten play starts. The struggle with getting better turnouts in December isn’t really fixable. The only real solution is schedulling more marquee opponents, but you have to have 7-9 cup-cakes. Historically, Saturday games with Pittsburgh and Temple have been the most sucessful, wouldn’t mind seeing some home&homes w/Pitt.


#20

Almost forgot, my one half-baked idea would be to play a non-conference home game in Rec Hall.
I know it’s probably impossible with BJC vendors and sponsors, not to mention season ticket holders, but it would be something to see and you know 8500 would show up for that.