Temple’s athletic department is experiencing an 80 percent increase in season tickets sold for the Owls’ football season.
When the Maryland Terrapins football program took the field against Miami on Sept. 5, the team’s Under Armour uniforms donned the colors and shapes of the state flag in every way possible. This sort of branding generates questions about how advertising and a team’s performance can improve a university’s annual athletic revenue.
Take the athletic department, for example.
When asked about the alternative uniforms that teams recently wore at their season openers, making a fashion statement in the college football world, coach Steve Addazio said he rather envision his team making plays.
“Honestly, all I really care about is, I want to see like Wayne Tribue rock off the ball, and you’re on defense, hit you so freaking hard you get knocked back eight yards. That’s all I care about,” Addazio said at a press conference last Tuesday. “All that other stuff, to me, I’m not real interested in.”
But shortly after, Addazio made a comment about the Terrapins’ uniforms, which were negatively talked about by many analysts and fans of the sport.
“I thought that was pretty cool though. We are an Under Armour team here,” Addazio said. “We’re grateful to be an Under Armour sponsor and I thought that Under Armour did a great in putting that forward last night.”
“There was a lot of conversation about it,” Addazio added. “We’re part of that Under Armour family, so we were pretty proud of that buzz.”
That media buzz can generate money for Maryland through a number of ways. One way the Owls have generated attention this year has been through its home schedule, which included Villanova and features the upcoming game with Penn State.
Although there’s a 10 percent athletic budget decrease, amounting to a $960,000 loss in university subsidy money expected in the 2012 auxiliary budget, the athletic department is optimistic that spending will continue next year. The athletics revenue budget is set to increase by $2.9 million, so the net effect of the former budget cut mentioned will come out to a total $2 million increase for the expense budget, bringing that total to $9.8 million.
“That increase is being funded through athletics’ generated revenues, primarily through football ticket sales,” deputy athletic director Eric Roedl said. “With Penn State coming into town and having seven home games, and men’s basketball schedule that we’re playing Duke, Maryland and Villanova, there’s a great opportunity for Temple athletics.”
Roedl, who oversees several aspects of the athletic department, including the overall athletic budget and the administration of football, men’s basketball and baseball teams, said the increase in athletic generated revenue is driven by several factors. The largest factor this year is the Penn State football game.
“That game enables us to sell more season tickets or partial season tickets, and certainly a lot more single game tickets for that game,” Roedl said.
The last time the Nittany Lions visited Lincoln Financial Field to play the Owls in 2007, the crowd set a stadium and overall record attendance for the program, a sellout of just more than 69,000 people.
“We saw a significant increase that year in ticket sales,” Roedl said. “That’s why we play these games. We’ll see that in 2014 when play Notre Dame here, we’ll see that in 2015 when we play Penn State again, and that’s one of the great benefits of playing schools like that that have such a strong college football brand and a real strong presence in this marketplace.”
This season in football, season tickets have seen an approximate 80 percent increase from last year’s total. The revenue generated this year will be used to off-set increased operating costs, including the $300,000 cost of hosting the Nittany Lions at home, Roedl said.
“This year we wanted to hit 100 percent growth [in season tickets],” Roedl said. “But season tickets are really the life-blood of football and basketball programs and that’s a real important component of our revenue base, so we continue to work at that.”
The revenue base that Temple athletics has seen in continued growth recently is also due in part by its newly implemented five-person staffed sales team.
Since May of last year, the athletics department has seen yearly ticket sales, “which are much more significant than they have been in the past,” Roedl said, for both football and basketball.
“The [sales team] cranks out about 1,000 calls a week,” Roedl said. “They’re calling alumni, faculty and staff, and various segments of the Philadelphia market that we feel have a reasonable likelihood of buying football tickets. It’s something that has been a real success for us.”
“Our available resources are what we generate plus what we’re allocated through the university,” Roedl added. “So any growth for athletics is really coming on us if we want to grow our program. We need to continue to sell more tickets, sell more corporate sponsorships, increase fundraising and [private/alumni] giving and that’s the way we’re going to grow.”
The Owls’ recent play across basketball and football programs has increased sponsorship deals and its branding. This has already been evident in the fact that at least eight of the football team’s 12 games will be televised, including a record seven nationally televised broadcasts.
“There’s a lot of great momentum with where the programs are headed competitively and with the brand image of the Philadelphia markets,” Roedl said. “So our hope is to continue to have all of that trend upwards.”
Connor Showalter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.