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Ken SugiuraKen Sugiura

With season tickets down, Tech pushing group sales

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A variety of factors, including a so-so home schedule and the team’s lackluster performance last season, have dropped Georgia Tech’s season-ticket sales beneath projections.

As of earlier this week, sales had surpassed 21,000, under the 22,100 projected in the athletic association’s 2014-15 budget. The total was 23,008 in 2013 and 23,319 in 2012. The latter figure included 1,200 packages sold for $99.

Slumping season-ticket sales are a trend across major college and professional sports, as teams compete with the improvement of the home-viewing experience and fans’ unwillingness to commit to a season’s worth of tickets.

Sales in even years are typically lower for Tech because the Georgia game is in Athens in those seasons. Last year’s 7-6 record and low expectations for the 2014 team didn’t help, either.

“We knew going into the year that, based upon historical figures, we would realize a definite downturn,” said Rick Thorpe, associate athletic director for sales and fan experience.

Thorpe’s department has pushed heavily into group sales, which he said is going “exceedingly well.” For instance, about 2,000 group tickets have been sold for Saturday’s season opener against Wofford, Thorpe said, compared to about 250 for last year’s opener against Elon. The team has targeted youth football leagues, offering them the opportunity to play on Grant Field after Tech’s game is completed.

With tickets for groups, individual games and packages, Thorpe said attendance for the whole season is projected to be around last year’s average, 49,077, which represented a 12 percent increase from 2012.

Among sales strategies for this season are a three-game pack in which fans can pick whatever games they want (typically, mini-packs limit the number of marquee games fans can pick) and a family season-ticket plan. The athletic department also introduced a new game-day application for smart phones in hopes of enhancing the stadium experience.

Season tickets “drive the largest revenue, but it’s putting together the entire array of promotions and marketing initiatives and offers that hopefully can get us the attendance we want to have on a regular basis and cover the budgets and revenues needed,” Thorpe said.

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