Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Taking Attendance

TigerBlog, in a very outdated way, has two entertainment options in his car.

The first is the CD player, on which he plays CDs he creates from I-tunes that are divided into three categories: Bruce Springsteen, Train or assorted others.

The second is the radio, which is almost always tuned to the AM side, except for when Little Miss TigerBlog insists on putting on Q-102, which is 102.1 FM, a station with a policy to play only songs by Rihanna, Katy Perry, that song where the woman screeches "You know we're superstars; we are who we are," the song where the guy is talking about catching grenades and such for a woman who won't return the favor and finally a random rap song, only to back to Rihanna.

Every time TB tries to change the station because the current song is unlistenable, LMTB flips out about how this one is her favorite or, even worse, she agrees that this song is awful but that the next one might be a good one.

Anyway, yesterday afternoon, TB was making the rounds on the AM side when he heard Michael Kay, the voice of the Yankees on the YES Network and also a radio host of an afternoon show on the New York ESPN station, essentially saying that the best thing that ever happened in the history of the Yanks was that Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies.

Of course, Kay's position would have required him to rip the team if Lee had taken their offer, right? Of course not.

All anyone heard for the last week or so - or really, since Lee's free agent status began to approach the horizon - was how the Yankees would get him. And then all of the sudden, he's a Phillie, which sparked the spin machine.

As an aside, Kay's position is correct, even if he's only saying it because the Yanks didn't get their man. The last thing the Yankees needed was another disastrous long-term contract for a pitcher, even if it looked promising in the short term.

Over on WFAN, Mike Francesa was busy talking about how it's no fun to win the World Series in years when the Yankees simply open the checkbook to stock up on the best available players. Again, TigerBlog has no memory of a time when Francesa said that the $420 million in contracts given to C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Texiera spoiled the 2009 championship.

Anyway, in all of the free agent stuff, the amount of money being thrown around is insane and, for the average person, incalculable. And what in the world do these guys do with all that money?

TB couldn't help but think about the difference between the Yankees situation and the Princeton athletics situation in the meeting yesterday to talk about the recently ended football season and look ahead to 2011. The meeting covered basically every operational aspect of Princeton football, from marketing to game times to television to ticketing to what gates the students should enter to parking to anything else.

Of course, it took TB back to all of the questions that he always has that he has no way to answer:
* is there a huge, untapped audience for Princeton athletics - and Princeton football specifically - that we're simply not reaching?
* what most impacts whether or not people attend or don't attend?
and of course the biggest one of all:
* how do we know if the attendance figures for Princeton football are good or bad?

Yes, the stadium seats 27,800, and yes attendance has dipped in the last few years. But does that mean that attendance is bad?

Or does that fact that 6,300 people attended Princeton-Dartmouth on a cold November day in a game that meant little suggest that attendance is actually extraordinary? What else could draw that number of people to sit outside in November?

Getting back to the Yankees - and apparently the Phils and some other teams - TB wonders what it would be like to have unlimited resources to use on Princeton's events and what Princeton athletics would then do. And what the results would be.

As part of the meeting, for instance, there was a discussion of coming up with new ideas to enhance the stadium concourse, with a goal of helping fan experience. Maybe one game could could have local ice cream vendors. Another could have local restaurants. Another could celebrate a local town or group.

Of course, everything costs money.

And, while Princeton does have a nice endowment, that money doesn't quite trickle down to the football marketing account.

So what do you do? Put some money towards some of these ideas and see what happens? Do nothing and see what happens?

Princeton's 2011 home football schedule begins with three straight home games (Lehigh, Bucknell, Columbia) and then has three straight road games (Hampton, Brown, Harvard) before finishing home against Cornell, at Penn, home against Yale, at Dartmouth.

In other words, by Oct. 1, 60% of the home schedule will have been played. The final 49 days of the season will feature two home games.

With a schedule like that, can momentum even be built? Factor in a possible Thursday night ESPNU game or a rainy Saturday, and attendance will be even more impacted.

The meeting ended with the idea of revisiting all of these issues in the spring as a lead-in to 2011. TB figures he'll have the same questions at that meeting that he had at the last one.

And at next year's wrap up meeting. And the one after that. And the one after that.


Anonymous said...

Attendance will continue to drop off with another losing season.

Anonymous said...

Has Coach Surace or the AD announced any changes in the coaching staff since the season ended? With a 1-10 season I would have thought there would have been several coaching changes announced by now? Changes in the coaching staff and how this team is coached given no scholarships is essential to success. Players are not happy and several have quit the team with many more considering not playing next year.

Anonymous said...

How can the AD and HC Surace be so quite on the direction of the football team. I do not see either one commenting on the football program for numerous weeks. Have they just thrown in the towel?