After Randy Edsall left the helm of UConn Football in 2011, attendance at Husky football games began to slowly decline. Newly placed athletic director David Benedict is here to fix that with a variety of enhancements to the gameday experience which he announced Friday morning on WTIC.
The athletic department is making a clear effort to get more students to the games this year. Freshmen will receive free tickets to the season opener against Maine in an effort to establish interest from the newest potential fans, with the hope that they enjoy the game enough to buy season tickets.
Having a big student presence at games is a key piece of home field advantage, as they are usually the loudest and most energetic fans there. UConn also made it easier for students to get to games, with the shuttle from Storrs now being free, as well as discounted student parking. A parking lot has been designated as a student tailgating lot as well, so all the college kids can be in one area with their friends before the game.
For all tailgaters, gates open an hour earlier than usual, giving fans five hours instead of four to eat, drink, and be merry. Blue lot ticket holders now have the ability to park wherever they want within blue lot for the first hour. But with these changes, Benedict has a big request for fans.
“Be in your seats at kickoff,” he said.
Once inside the Rent, hot dog and water can now be enjoyed for $3 as opposed to $5, as Benedict felt the former prices were way too high for a college venue. In the release, it was also noted to “look for more details on these and other changes early next week.”
There’s no doubt the declining attendance has been due to the team struggling for the last couple of years. However, fans leave a lot quicker than they return, which is one of the reasons for these changes. The Huskies haven’t sold out a game since 2013, when they had to bring in extra stands for the game against Michigan. But with these changes, as well as the help of a consulting firm and an improved team in 2016, sales should start to rise.
There’s no reason attendance should average less than 30K per game this year. UConn football is coming off its most successful season since 2010 after winning one of the biggest games in program history against an undefeated Houston team to clinch a bowl berth. At one point, UConn had over 32,000 season ticket holders. The Rent has been noted as one of the toughest places to play in the past. The pieces are in place for that reputation to return.