Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Incentivizing Lousiville Cardinal Fans to Stay for the WHOLE Game

I think all of us Louisville Card fans are proud of our team's performance against the NCAA March Madness runner up Butler tonight. But if you were at the game, or my guess watching it on TV, you might not be able to tell in the last minutes. As I looked around the new Yum! Center, the arena appeared half empty. This wasn't some exhibition game, this was the first real game against a very real team. It was also, I call, a disgrace on a part of the fans who left early.

That's why I propose this or a similar system to incentivize ticket holders to be the loyal fans they are and pack the house at every game and support our team until the final buzzer ends, win or lose. Every ticket price should include a small deposit per game. For each game, when its scanned to enter the arena you would get a portion of the deposit credited back electronically to your account. But the real incentive would come at the end of the game. After the clock runs out, and only after the clock runs out, you could have your ticket scanned as you leave the arena and have a larger portion of the deposit returned to you electronically. This would reward people who stay and support the team rather than try and beat traffic. Although I have no statistics to back this up, I think having a packed house at the end each game would increase our winning record. It would keep the morale of the team up, thus making less likely them losing a lead if they have one and more likely of making a come back if they are behind.

I noticed another thing as I looked around, or rather up. The lower part of the arena was empty, but the top of the arena was still almost full. Now, unless I'm mistaken, that's because the fans in the upper deck for whatever reason can't afford what it takes to get good seats in the lower section (or simply haven't had season tickets long enough to get the points) but what they do pay is a greater percentage of their income than all the donations and ticket costs themselves are to fans in the lower deck and so are valued more. To help encourage our fellow fans in the lower arena and our loyal fans high up for each game when you scan your ticket after the game is over so many CAF (Cardinal Athletic Fund) points would be rewarded.

These proposals would both encourage fans to support the team to the end, like they should, and to reward loyal fans with better seats if those with good seats consistently leave early. If you couldn't make a game, you would have extra incentive to ensure you give or sell your tickets to someone you know will go. (In the case of giving them to someone you know, you could remind them to scan their ticket and login and view if they did. If they keep leaving early you would probably give them to another friend who would stay.) I don't know whether you would want to charge a small deposit for higher up seats and as the ticket price increases a larger deposit since a $1 fee for example wouldn't be enough to change behavior. There is precedence for revoking season tickets from people who don't use them. I know Churchill Downs at least used to do this with box seats, as my dad received boxed seats from my grandfather, sold them to his law office, and after a couple of years of them not being used enough lost them.

And remember, this isn't adding cost to the tickets. If you go to every game and stay until the end, or at least make sure your ticket is put to use when you can't, you would get back all your money. We could even keep in a savings account and you get the interest (doubt it would amount to much) it earned. If you really can't find anyone to take your tickets, you could turn them into the box office before hand and would automatically get your CAF points and your deposit back, and if the tickets are sold your money back. (Probably be best to use a site like FlashTickets to manage electronically and not worry about physical tickets.) I'm pretty sure there are 22000 Card fans that would gladly jump at a chance to go to a random game who can't afford season tickets and all the mandatory donations. But if for some not enough people can be found, by letting the box office your seats won't be used they could upgrade people from higher up to keep the lower section full.

Of course, there would be the question of what to do with the deposits that aren't claimed. Of course that could always be donated to a scholarship fund. Or perhaps to further incentivize every one who does stay would split the pot of deposits. (would work best if the deposit is the same for everyone, but could probably still be manged if otherwise.) If everyone stayed for the end of a nail-biting game, you'd just get your deposit back. But if people start leaving early, the amount you would get back if you stay would increase providing feedback to the crowd to keep the rest of the crowd there since they will earn more.

Finally, if just giving hard cash doesn't sound good, we could always link it to promotions and even make money off the sponsorship. Stay until the end of the game and when you leave you get 100 points on your Q-doba card for example. People are crazy about Q-doba. I however think just crediting cash back would be most effective since everyone likes money, not everyone will like any particular restaurant we let do a promotion.

(Don't get me started on UK fans in the student section during the UK game. I find that disgraceful. I think that as a condition for receiving student tickets so cheaply, part of the contract should be for that game you agree to wear red (or at least U of L gear, although for the UofL-UK game it really should be red.) You would agree that upon arriving at the section during the game, the school could challenge your wear, (aka UK or blue clothing) and give you a CardShirt to put on. If you really insist on cheering for UK (vomiting in my mouth as I type) you could take a seat in the upper deck and some lucky fan would get upgraded to the lower arena.) Something like that would be too late to put in a contract to receive tickets this year, but could be in place in two years. If its in a contract you sign when purchasing tickets I think it should be legal. It would be akin to the student section being extras in a movie and obviously being able to dictate what you wear or fire you. But that's another issue.)

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