Penn State Hockey Interest and Attendance Woes?

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Penn State Hockey Interest and Attendance Woes?

Post  amg424 on Tue 19 Jun 2012, 2:53 am

The twitter account for PSU Men's Hockey tweeted on Monday, June 18 that there were 70 ticket packages still available. Tickets went on sale last Tuesday morning. The account then informed followers that after three hours only 200 ticket packages remained. Over the next almost seven days, Penn State sold only approximately 130 packages. Thank You Terry tackled whether there is an interest gap between what is needed for a program of the calibre that most of us hope Penn State will be and what has been shown, and if that dearth of interest will result in a future of poor attendance in his Cause For Concern? post.

It is certainly a topic worth considering and debating.

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Re: Penn State Hockey Interest and Attendance Woes?

Post  amg424 on Tue 19 Jun 2012, 2:55 am

I thought the post was great from TYT. It captures my worries well. I might be ever so slightly more pessimistic about the student section than TYT is, but we agree that there is cause for concern with the interest level. I was shocked when I saw the tweet from PSU Men's Hockey that there were ticket packages still remaining. It is very disappointing. I am not sure if those in administrative and promotional positions realize how difficult it will be to cultivate the requisite passion and interest for a successful college hockey program. It seems like many, from my few conversations with them, take for granted that because Beaver Stadium is full on Saturday that Pegula will be full on Friday and Saturday nights. The cultures of college football and college hockey are very distinct. Fans overlap sometimes, but often those who do love different things about each. I will not continue to wax philosophically about this difference, but I feel that many who are charged with ensuring that this program launches successfully are underestimating the task.

Programs like Cornell and Michigan that sell out their venues regularly now began with droughts of attendance. Sparty fans outnumbered Michigan fans in Yost regularly for decades until Berenson resurrected the program in the early 1990s. Lynah Rink at Cornell was dead and barely garnered crowds of 2,000 from 1957 until the 1962 Harvard game when it was over-capacity. If something is not done to bolster greater interest on campus and in the community, Penn State will be headed toward the same existence. However, unlike Cornell and Michigan, that were building or resurrecting their programs when the recruiting markets were regional. Now, recruiting is international. The options for potential recruits at Penn State are greater than those available to potential recruits to Cornell or Michigan. Most recruits to major hockey schools cite a tradition of winning and zealous fans as why they chose a given school. Penn State is brand new for all intents and purposes, so it has not the former. If the Ice Pavilion cannot sell out, then things do not bode well for the latter. No one wants to play in front of an empty building, no matter how state-of-the-art it is. This situation will be exacerbated only when play moves to a 6,000-seat arena.

The panic began for me with the fact that the benched student section is limited to 17% of Pegula. That figure bothers me. Penn State is the second largest university in terms of enrollment that sponsors NCAA Division I hockey but it will have a smaller percentage of its seats dedicated to students in its arena. 37% of Yost is dedicated to student season ticket holders. 48% of Lynah is dedicated to student season ticket holders. Cornell offers ~500 student season tickets than will Penn State with Cornell having less than 35% of the undergraduate population of Penn State. So, if you're right that there should be no alarm or concern about student interest, then, it seems like having a plan that would have created a larger student section would have alleviated some of those concerns.

I would tend to blame other odds choices for a nascent program and too few public campaigns not the weakness of the home schedule. As we discussed on Pride of Pegula Forum regarding the Vermont game at Wells Fargo, the new fans who are not already devoted college hockey fans would not realize that the home schedule is that weak. Sure, they know that there's not a name brand like Michigan, but they probably do not realize whether AIC or Air Force is great or abysmal.

The catch-22 of college hockey is that one cannot build a large and passionate fanbase unless one's university team is successful, but in the modern recruiting era, one cannot gain commitments from the players who will make a program successful without a large and passionate fanbase. There are few exceptions to this rule. I am sure you know which one that I have chosen to avoid mentioning. Something novel needs to be done. The lack of clarity about student tickets and the fact that, unlike football, everything cannot be done online so people may be unsure how to get tickets or dislike the unfamiliarity with a different process has just aggravated the process of building a fanbase.

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