UM football ticket sales still strong

School near '05 mark despite 5-6 seasons

August 10, 2006|By HEATHER A. DINICH | HEATHER A. DINICH,SUN REPORTER

UM football ticket sales strong Football season-ticket sales have nearly doubled over the past five seasons under coach Ralph Friedgen, and Maryland officials said this year's number is expected to match or exceed last season's total despite consecutive losing seasons.

Maryland sold 15,759 season tickets in 2001, when Friedgen took over the program and led the Terps to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship. Friedgen, who was brought in to resurrect a program that had two winning seasons in 16 years, immediately had three consecutive 10-win seasons, and sales jumped to 31,542 last year.

After consecutive 5-6 seasons and an increase in season-ticket prices because of two additional home games, the number of tickets sold to date has dropped to 29,455. Maryland will continue to sell them, but associate athletic director Brian Ullmann attributed the decline to fewer family four-pack sales, which increased from $330 to $504.

"It's not a big surprise to us," Ullmann said. "We know those are the most price-conscious customers. We saw a significant amount of those ticket holders not renew their tickets. That accounts for the difference.

"It wasn't in our Terrapin Club or loyal season-ticket base, the people that have been with us for a long time," he said. "Those don't drop off."

Even though Maryland was sixth in the ACC in average home attendance at 52,426, the Terps were second only to North Carolina State in capacity average, which means they packed Byrd Stadium every home game. Maryland has the fourth-smallest stadium in the ACC and had to set up temporary bleachers last year for big games like West Virginia.

The capacity of Byrd Stadium is 51,500, and Maryland drew 101.8 percent over that last year. The Terps sold out every game last year through the combination of season tickets, group and single-game tickets.

"Our fans -- for the most part -- I couldn't be more pleased with," Friedgen said at the ACC Football Kickoff last month. "Our ticket sales are about staying the same as what they've been, which to me shows a tremendous amount of confidence not only in myself and our staff, but our team. I get very few hate-mail letters, for the most part. The ones I do, they don't sign."

Ullmann estimated Maryland football is still "a couple thousand away" from selling out Byrd Stadium on season tickets alone -- a feat the men's basketball program has already accomplished.

"We would love to have that situation in football," Ullmann said. "If we get back to a bowl, it will happen."

Regular-season tickets have jumped from $215 last season (which included the season opener against Navy) to $256 this year. The Terps have seven home games, including Florida State and Miami.

"I think in some ways I'm blessed to be at a place that understands what we're all about," Friedgen said. "They want to see kids graduate. It's not all just about winning."

heather.dinich@baltsun.com

Ticket sales

Maryland football season-ticket sales since Ralph Friedgen was hired as coach:

Year ............... Total

2001 ................ 15,759

2002 .............. 22,576

2003 ............... 24,824

2004 ................ 29,249

2005 ................ 31,542

2006 ................ 29,455

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