Monday, July 27, 2009

Who Needs Tickets?

The solitary bird seemed to be taking its time as it swept panoramically around nearly empty Princeton Stadium on a lazy summer morning. Once it circled the upper reaches of the facility, then again, then again, all three times with hardly a flap of its wings.

The only other sign of life was down on the field, where a distant figure ran sprints. Up and back, up and back, distances varying, the pattern interrupted only by the breaks for rest and water.

In other words, the place was empty, except for a bird and someone working out. TigerBlog observed the scene from the press box level of Princeton Stadium, and he was struck by the July solitude of a venue built to hold tens of thousands of fans on autumn Saturdays.

TB also was struck again by how nice a stadium it is. Maybe it's because TigerBlog HQ looks out into the stadium, but it's easy to take for granted that Princeton has such an attractive football stadium.

Tickets for Princeton's 2009 home schedule have gone on sale,
which is a little insane in TB's mind, as it doesn't seem possible that the 2009-10 athletic year is not that far away.

Princeton's home schedule consists of the Citadel, Columbia, Colgate, Cornell and Yale. The Colgate game is a Thursday night ESPNU event.

TigerBlog has long been impressed with the Trenton Thunder and the ability of the Yankees' Double-A farm team (dubbed "the Local Nine" by Trenton Times columnist Mark Eckel) to get people into the building along the Delaware River. TB lived a few blocks from that site in the late 1980s (off Lalor Street), and he was amazed that someone thought it'd be a good idea to build a stadium there.

The Thunder, nevertheless, have been a marketing and attendance success story since Day 1, or more accurately Day 100, as the first few weeks at Waterfront Park were a little shaky. TB remembers two great headlines after a game had to be postponed due to issues with the playing surface: "Field of Seams" in the Trentonian and "Nice Day Brings No Rain, No Thunder" in the Trenton Times (okay, TB wrote that one).

Still, TB and Eckel have had endless conversations about the fact that you could probably stand outside of Waterfront Park before a game and ask the fans walking in who was playing or to name three players on the Thunder and the overwhelming number wouldn't be able to do it. Further, it's likely that if you stood outside after the game, details such as who won and what the score was would escape most who were in attendance.

In other words, the fan experience, and not the game itself, is what the Thunder is selling. TB has often thought there are great lessons to be learned from that here at Princeton, though not quite to the same extent (the Thunder exists a for-profit operation, so overwhelming the crowd with corporate sponsorship is part of it).

Princeton Athletics, though, is definitely selling the fan experience here, especially for people with young children. There have been countless attempts to jam the words "football," "family" and "fun" into marketing slogans, but the reality is that that's what games at Princeton Stadium are all about.

The affordability of ticket prices (lets face it, you can't possibly find less expensive college football tickets anywhere near here), the activities for kids, the Tiger and cheerleaders, the message board and the rest are all geared towards making it a GameDay, rather than just a game.

It is TigerBlog's opinion that Princeton football attendance has flourished largely through those efforts. Yes, Princeton Stadium is not sold out week in and week out, but the number of people who routinely attend games here is in TigerBlog's mind astonishing in comparison to other events, athletic and non-athletic, on campus.

So buy your tickets and get out here. You're missing out on a great time if you don't.


Square Palmer said...

Be curious to know how many times since it opened has the Princeton stadium been occupied by "tens of thousands of spectators" and how many times has it actually been used for a formal, admission charged event. For the former, any "official paid attendance" above 10,000 will suffice.

It must be the most expensive, least utilized facility on campus.

Princeton OAC said...

Princeton Stadium routinely draws more than 10,000 to home games. At the same time, there are usually just five of them per year. That's a situation not unique to Princeton, by the way. TigerBlog feels that Princeton Stadium would make a great facility for any number of purposes (offices, classrooms, meeting space) that would make it utilized more, but given the current economic climate, it's unlikely to happen in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Love it that the OAC reports that "Princeton Stadium routinely draws more than 10,000 to home games." Do you know how many Princeton Stadium draws to AWAY games?

Also, is it just me, or did OAC not answer the question, how many times in its existence has the stadium drawn "more than 10,000 official paid attendance" to a regular home game?