Delaware head football coach K.C. Keeler is concerned...attendance at Blue Hen football games is dropping...sharply. Not once this year has attendance topped 20,000 and the biggest crowd was for West Chester, some 19,000. Last Saturday's game against a big rival in William and Mary on a beautiful night for football, drew just 17,000.
Fans have long been dissatisfied with having West Chester on the schedule...but that doesn't explain this.
What does explain it is the overall dissatisfaction of the fan base with recent moves by the university. First and foremost is increasing the cost of reserved parking spaces in prime areas and the addition of "voluntary" donations to the athletic department to keep prime seats for season ticket holders. Disgruntled fans have decided to forego the season ticketrs and buy on a game by game basis....and apparently they're not buying many of those.
In addition, the fan base does not like the university going to a "professional" event staff, specifically CSC. And after this past weekend's incident, in which a CSC event staff worker ejected "Trumpetman", a former student who has been rallying the troops from the stands with a trumpet, largely unhindered for more than a decade, the anger over CSC has increased dramatically. In addition, some fans claim to have been roughed up by UD police when they walked out in support of Trumpetman. See their comments at gohens.net.
The anti-UD feelings among the fan base is something I have never seen before, at least to this extent...but in many ways it is understandable. For years, the university has acted with an arrogance and a "we're better than you and we can do what we want" attitude for many years. Now they're tying it to increased contributions and the fans are rebelling.
On top of all that, the school has dragged its feet to make any improvements (or even replace) Delaware Stadium and the football supporters are waiting for UD to step into the 21st century, like JMU and ODU (and others).
Sadly, Delaware doesn't appear as if it recognizes any problems. The school put out a one paragraph press release saying it had investigated the Trumpetman incident and found the CSC worker and police to have done everything right...oh, and don't bother asking us to elaborate on the comment because that's all we're saying. Nice PR UD.
The University of Delaware has a major public relations problem at the very least. Unfortunately, with their collective heads stuck in the sand, they can't see it.
Posted at 7:27am on October 12, 2011 by Big Don Voltz
I'm not here to defend UD, but what is one of the reasons for seat licenses and donations to the athletic fund? To make improvements to the facilities that you say football supporters are waiting for. These improvements do not pay for themselves, and as a taxpayer, I don't want to see them going to the General Assembly looking for money to do this work.
I don't know about the CSC incident, but my guess is that they would not have ejected Trumpetman unless the university directed them to do so.
Maybe the sports marketing folks need to sit down and figure out how to expand the attendance base beyond the people who have had season tickets for 40 years. I've got some ideas but my services are not free.
Wed, Oct 12, 2011 11:25am
The problem, Mike, is that the ticketholders have yet to see any improvements. AT JMU they\'ve been doing this and expanded the stadium to 25,000 seats with loads of amenities. The complaint among the fans is Delaware doesn\'t even have a plan in place for what they want to do with the stadium...at least not one that lasts more than a few months. The other problem is Delaware came too late to the table...deciding they might want to do some upgrades to the stadium just when the recession hit...and are now having trouble getting people to contribute.
I am well aware that improvements cost money...but when you don\'t even have a plan, its tough for the fan base to get on board.
Wed, Oct 12, 2011 11:36am
Fair points, Big. I think the athletic department would be better served by being more open with its fans. My experience with fundraising has been that people will give more freely when they know where their money is going.
Just got done reading through GoHens.net, and it's not pretty. UD has a serious image and police problem. I'm not sure they'll get the students back. In a school with 15,000 students, I've never seen more than a thousand or so inside the stadium.
Thanks for writing about this. Too often, UD operates behind a big blue wall, with this kind of conversation largely taking place too quietly.
Wed, Oct 12, 2011 12:47pm
What is going on with Delaware football? Nothing great, at least for the fans. As an UD alumna, parents who are UD alumni, and boyfriend and many friends who are UD alumni AND UD Football alumni, it is very disappointing to all of us that WE as alumni do not enjoy the entire Football experience because of University policies such as the new tailgating policy "either you can go into the game, leave the grounds, or be arrested". Yes we have had that said to us many times, even when parked in the GOLD lot in front of the stadium. But if you are parked within the stadium walls by the practice field….you can tailgate all you want…guess money does make a difference.
So when did alumni need babysitters for tailgating? Aren't we all adults here??? Didn't I PAY for parking AND football tickets AND UD apparel AND won't I buy more food and drinks inside the stadium. Doesn't that count for anything?? Guess not. Hey, what about UD spirit and getting fans into the game….yeah..not doing much there either…..been to many games and the football pre-game, halftime show, etc lacks a lot of luster. I should know…I now go to WVU football games with my friends just because we get the entire football experience and WVU appreciates their fans and football team AND alumni! UD should go to a WVU game sometime and take notes of how it is really done…..UD has a lot to improve on.
Oh and UD please stop asking me and my boyfriend to ‘give back’ and donate to the school. When you give us back our tailgating rights and start appreciating your alumni, we might actually consider it. But till then we will continue to support WVU.
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