Fan Support

This topic contains 19 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  LU65 9 years, 12 months ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 20 total)
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  • #2922

    LU65
    Participant

    Twenty minutes prior to tip-off of our home-opener against Wagner, I did a rough count (actually, it wasn’t that hard to do) of the crowd that packed Stabler Arena that night. It was Opening Night of the 2010-11 men’s basketball season – just months removed from Lehigh’s gallant run through the Patriot League Playoffs and a NCAA date with the #1 team in the nation, Kansas. There, in the rafters, hung the banner proclaiming us PL Champs! What a glorious sight. As for the body count, I came up with 253 fannies in the seats. Somehow the audience swelled to 665 with the late arrival of players, officials, concessionaires, the LU Dance Team, and those fans stuck in traffic. At least, that was the number reported in the Box Score the next day. How sad! It’s an insult to those who give so much of their time, talent, and energy – the players and coaching staff of this fine university. What’s going on? What can be done? What the hell! I know many of you have here these common cries before but, seriously, what can we the loyal fans of Lehigh basketball do – perhaps separately or in concert with the school’s Administration – to remedy the situation?

    We have now played host to Wagner, Cornell and Bryant. Our attendance is up slightly to 748pg or 7th best in the 8-team league. You’d never know we have up-tempo/fun to watch team that sits atop the league in scoring (71.3ppg) and a player that comes along maybe once every 20-30 years in CJ McCollum. The sophomore guard is getting national recognition and just happens to lead our league in scoring (23.7ppg) and steals (2.0pg), while holding down the number 2 spot in rebounds (7.4pg).

    Holy Cross 2966
    Bucknell 2100
    American 1664
    Navy 1562
    Lafayette 1307
    Colgate 987
    Lehigh 748
    Army 607

    I repeat, what can we the loyal fans of Lehigh basketball do – perhaps separately or in concert with the school’s Administration – to remedy the situation?

    #2924

    Neighbor
    Participant

    Well, there are several suggestions.

    First, make it VERY easy for Lehigh students to attend (and to leave when the want to). The shuttle bus system should be continuous, even if it means just 10 students on board. If the students want to arrive/leave at halftime, make it easy.

    Next, bring back the local community halftime youth basketball games.

    Next, petition the league to return to mens/womens double headers on the same evening.

    Next, bring in a new, more youthful, energetic announcer. The current guy is stale.

    Next, dim the lights beyond courtside. Make the court an actual stage.

    Next, establish a marketing team that provides MANY opportunities for attendees to win prizes, discounts from local merchants.

    Establish more promotions like dollar hot dog nights, buy one ticket, get one free, your entire family for $10, free popcorn night, etc.

    Next, spend more bucks with local television media to promote games.

    Well, that’s a start.

    #2925

    norcalfan
    Participant

    I would think that after an NCAA appearance, the administration would do something to improve attendance. The parents must be disappointed as well. The announcer mentioned that Gabe’s family was in attendance for a few days. Griener, Hamilton, Safstrom, Adams, and Ojo to name a few have family who live far. Come on LU administration, step it up. The men and women deserve support.

    #2926

    LU65
    Participant

    Thanks, guys. Give me more. I’ll pool the responses and present them to those in responsible positions.

    #2943
    Bison137
    Bison137
    Participant

    "Neighbor" wrote:

    petition the league to return to mens/womens double headers on the same evening.

    I’m all in favor of the doubleheaders, but you’ll be wasting your time with a petition to the league. When they voted to do away with the doubleheaders, reportedly the men’s coaches were unanimously against the doubleheaders. (The women’s coaches were largely in favor, with Bill Gibbons being one of the exceptions.) So if you want to get doubleheaders again, someone will have to lobby the AD’s (or Presidents) of the PL teams in a big way. The best chance to get something would be to have doubleheaders on Saturdays – with more time between the games – and to have different days on weekdays (women on Tuesday, men on Wednesday) with both teams from a given school being either home or road in a given week.

    #2945

    norcalfan
    Participant

    Why would the coaches not want an opportunity to gain a larger group of fans? Excuse me, but I don’t understand.

    #2946

    norcalfan
    Participant

    Speaking of support, check out the Bucknell’s website photo gallery of the Boston U game. President Bravman shook hands with the coaches. Has Lehigh’s president attended a basketball game for the women and men? She hails from SU as well as Bravman.

    #2949

    dcubbage7303
    Participant

    "Neighbor" wrote: Well, there are several suggestions.

    First, make it VERY easy for Lehigh students to attend (and to leave when the want to). The shuttle bus system should be continuous, even if it means just 10 students on board. If the students want to arrive/leave at halftime, make it easy.

    Next, bring back the local community halftime youth basketball games.

    Next, petition the league to return to mens/womens double headers on the same evening.

    Next, bring in a new, more youthful, energetic announcer. The current guy is stale.

    Next, dim the lights beyond courtside. Make the court an actual stage.

    Next, establish a marketing team that provides MANY opportunities for attendees to win prizes, discounts from local merchants.

    Establish more promotions like dollar hot dog nights, buy one ticket, get one free, your entire family for $10, free popcorn night, etc.

    Next, spend more bucks with local television media to promote games.

    Well, that’s a start.

    You actually have several really good ideas here that could go a long way in improving the attendance at Stabler. I think that the University needs to take the first step in changing the overall support and attendance, and I think that any or all of your ideas would work very well in getting people in seats.

    #2952
    Bison137
    Bison137
    Participant

    "norcalfan" wrote: Why would the coaches not want an opportunity to gain a larger group of fans? Excuse me, but I don’t understand.

    1. The men’s coaches didn’t like the fact that their game – which was the second half of each doubleheader – had no guaranteed starting time. If the women’s game went to a couple of OT’s or simply ran long for some reason, then the scheduled time to begin warmups would be delayed. To me not a big deal, but to coaches who want everything as controlled as possible, it apparently was (especially in light of #2 below). This is why my suggestion would be to try for doubleheaders only on weekends. If you started the women at 5:00 PM and the men at 7:45 or even 8 PM, it would be rare that the men wouldn’t be able to start warmups on time.

    2. The men’s coaches didn’t think the men’s games would gain more than a handful of extra fans by having doubleheaders with the women. Their view – which probably has some truth in it – is that very few people are going to refuse to go a men’s-only game and yet attend because there is a women’s game preceding it.

    BTW, most of the women’s coaches were in favor because it would clearly have helped them draw more fans – especially in the second half. Gibbons of HC was reportedly against it because at that time HC was a very strong program and drew good attendances on a stand-alone basis.

    #2953

    lfnadmin
    Keymaster

    "Bison137" wrote: 2. The men’s coaches didn’t think the men’s games would gain more than a handful of extra fans by having doubleheaders with the women. Their view – which probably has some truth in it – is that very few people are going to refuse to go a men’s-only game and yet attend because there is a women’s game preceding it.

    I don’t know about other people, but I really like the m/w doubleheaders. But another reason why I think athletic departments don’t like it is that it means less revenue since it would be a single-ticketed event for two games.

    Having said that, I could see a "family dinner at the STAR" promotion, 4 tickets, 4 hotdogs, 4 pretzels, two youth T-shirts for some fixed sum. I bet that would get a lot of local families in the door.

    #2957

    True-Colors
    Participant

    I have no intentions of being a regular poster but this topic is important. I do enjoy reading most of your insights.

    Attendance will take an administration focus. It can not be done unless there’s focus on it. Strangely, there is money that could be made; particularly with a good team so I don’t know why they wouldn’t jump on it. I know we’re an academic school but that doesn’t mean you have to have one or the other or should be against making money. You can still make money in sports and be an academic school. My input follows:

    You have three targets: the students, commercial businesses and the community.

    You need to find out what’s important to the targets. For the students maybe it’s housing, concerts tickets, food, movie tickets for dates, shopping. Then, you start rewarding those areas.

    Students:
    • Housing & Concerts
    o I’ve seen other colleges and universities use a systems called “spirit
    points”. These spirit points become very valuable because those
    students with the highest points get first crack at housing, concerts or
    food. Lafayette versus Lehigh sporting events may be a great motivator

    o Lehigh uses a lottery system for housing. If the students with the
    highest spirit points get first shot at housing, they will show up for
    games.

    o Spirit points are bigger then men’s basketball. Points are earned by
    attending all events. It should include everything; girls basketball,
    soccer, baseball softball, guest speakers, etc.

    o There are people with scanners that scan student ids in and out. You
    can make them stay to half time to get their points or make them stay
    for an hour or two. These systems and programs are available for
    colleges.

    o Making it easy to get to the games is important. This needs to be a
    focus.

    o I noticed Lehigh now rents cars. Maybe a free car rental for a student
    for a day would be important to students; maybe that’s something to
    promote

    Commercial Businesses:
    • Offer food & activities such as Movie Tickets; it’s a strange concept but it’s
    important that the university help the local commercial businesses
    grow. Then they’ll support Lehigh Athletics.

    o Food can be done within Lehigh Food Service, floor pizza parties or with
    local restaurants and sponsors.

    o The Goose is a place all Students like

    o Blue Moon is a Great breakfast place

    o Theaters
     1st 100 students attending get movie tickets;
     Or every other student gets tickets; you may bring in 200 students
     The first 100 get breakfast at Blue Moon.
     I bet they don’t go to the movies or breakfast alone

    o Some of this is should be sponsored by the school to get it going and
    some should be sponsored by the commercial businesses. As these
    commercial businesses start seeing increased student traffic, they’ll
    continue the sponsorship and others will want to get involved. But it
    takes time and effort.

    o A couple bucks at these places may go a long way with students

    o It may take several one on one sales visits to these establishments to
    get it going; that’s part of the admin commitment. But it’s important
    that we help the local businesses Grow not just ask for
    advertising

    o A mall night where the local mall sponsors a gift certificate may bring
    the students to the game and the mall.

    o All ideas don’t work unless marketed, promoted and communicated
    properly

    Community:

    •Service is a great way to get the community involved.

    o The youth basketball games are a great idea

    o Free tickets or ½ priced tickets on a designated food night. All you
    need to do is bring a can of food for the food pantry.

    o The athletes are very busy but they need to be in the community
    making friends with the elementary kids and businesses. The athletes
    have a responsibility filling the seats as well. Not that there’s many but
    a few less F-bombs on the court will also make sure this is a G rated
    family event.

    o Elementary nights where specific elementary schools with a certain
    amount of attendance can get a donation from Lehigh for books,
    computers, etc. $500 -$1,000 means a ton to these schools.

    o If you give the schools a buck or two for everyone that shows up from
    that school including parents, you may just bring in 500 to 2,000 ticket
    buying concession purchasing fans. You’ll probably make it up in pizza
    sales and they’ll likely come back for the cheap quality entertainment.

    o There are plenty others needing help in the community. If we put our
    minds to it, the athletic department can help them. It’s not bad PR for
    the school either; that word gets around.

    o You must show you’re interested in them in order for them to become
    interested in you.

    Just some thoughts but it’s important to figure out what’s important to your targets and then help them get it. The commercial businesses want to grow. The community wants deals and will get involved in service projects and the students have lots of needs that can be filled. Sorry for the long post

    #2958

    Neighbor
    Participant

    Excellent contribution, True Colors!

    On the matter of doubleheaders . . .

    At Lehigh, with a mostly off-campus arena, it’s difficult to get students to find their way over the mountain. None of them can walk there on their own. That’s a huge disadvantage. If it’s tough to get them to Stabler once per week (for a doubleheader) what sense does it make to continue the current format that requires them to make the journey twice? Not to mention, the busy students don’t really have 2 nights to give to basketball.

    My family used to attend the full doubleheader. We spent additional dollars for dinner between games.
    A FULL night of Lehigh basketball. Well worth the money.

    #2959

    LU65
    Participant

    Great input everyone! Keep it up. I’ll soon batch the ideas and attempt to move the ball forward.

    #2961

    Mtnhwkfan
    Participant

    Thank you LU65 for reopening this discussion. Lack of student and community support for Lehigh basketball is indeed a significant issue for the program. It hurts recruiting/retention, and can affect a team’s on-court performance. Here are my top 10:

    1. Continue to win. There is nothing like winning that attracts fan support. We are definitely on the right track here, but it is coming after a long history of losing. Over the last 20 years, the program has finished first twice, second once and third twice. However, the good news is that the two firsts and thirds have come in the last seven years. The program is on a positive track, but the history is not long enough to truly build a fan base. The best thing the administration can do to build fan support is to provide resources that the coaching staff needs to attract quality, academically qualified players.

    2. Student Section. The heart of a college basketball crowd is the student section (the “engineers”?). The students should be moved to center court on the player bench side of the court. At a college basketball game, the best seats should be reserved for the students. The band should be present as often as possible and could stay at their present location. The student cheering should be informally led by fellow students. There are many nearby great examples of creative, enthusiastic student involvement at college basketball games. Take our student leaders to these games to experience what can be done.

    3. Student Tickets. I don’t know what the student cost for a ticket is now, but if it is more than zero, it is too much. If there is now a charge, dropping it to zero would cost little but provide a significant potential for increasing student support. I agree with neighbor’s suggestion for free regular shuttle rides.

    4. Taylor Gym. Let’s schedule one game a year at Taylor Gym. Packing Taylor with students would be a great environment for college basketball and a powerful kickoff to build student support.

    5. Campus Promotion. On campus promotion of upcoming games should be ever-present. Perhaps create come halftime competition between resident houses.

    6. Engage the Local Media. There needs to be a dedicated effort to increase media coverage of the team. The local stories are very bland and do nothing to build community interest. Any writer or media person should be treated royalty when attending a game.

    7. Upgrade Stabler. Top of my list would be a center hung LED scoreboard with video capacity.

    8. Upgrade gameday production. Announcer, timeouts, halftime entertainment and overall fan engagement should all be significantly improved. With an LED scoreboard, we would also need video replay and scoreboard staffing.

    9. Freebees. Giveaways are a tried and true method of turning out fans. Let’s get creative and use items that students would love.

    10. Scheduling. Whenever possible, home games should be scheduled on Friday or Saturday evenings.

    #2962

    norcalfan
    Participant

    Thanks for all the replies. Hopefully this is enough for the administration.

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