Zach Conen is a busy guy nowadays. He has to get people to buy Temple football tickets- a daunting task. And now he has to deal with a mobster supporting a rival Big East school.
Conen, the Director of Advertising, Promotions and Ticket Sales at Temple, has the job of getting people in the seats to help the Temple football program.
The program, who has just one more season in the Big East after failing to meet certain requirements, including attendance, needs Conen’s help if it is to put up the argument that it belongs.
Rutgers, even with their similarly losing records on the field, has had enough fans in the seats to remain in good favor with the conference. To boost sales even more, the school has hired “Sopranos”‘ star James Gandolfini to be its spokesman.
“I don’t know if we’re going to enlist the “Sopranos,” Conen said, “but I’m hoping we get to the point that the program sells itself.”
Temple finished 4-7 last year and second to last in the conference- Rutgers finished last. But Temple’s low attendance at home games, about 18,000 per game, was below the Big East’s unwritten criteria of about 25,000.
“It’s tough to say that any one thing is going to resolve it,” Conen said. “I think if we do little things to help build more interest.”
Temple has commitments from alumni for over 26,000 season tickets already, but Conen also wants the student body’s support.
Temple students at football games are few and far between. Last year, as the team started 3-1, students came to the games cheering. But as the team slipped, so did its student fan base.
“(Student support is) critically important,” said Athletics Director Dave O’Brien. “Everyone’s excited, everyone’s jumping on board.”
Student tickets for games will be free and are paid for by GAF fees. O’Brien and Conen, though, want students to pledge their support to the program by signing up for season tickets. The tickets are free but, for the football program, the signatures on request forms are priceless.
“I think we remain very optimistic that the Big East will take a second look at what we’re trying to do,” O’Brien said.
To help fight the fight against student football apathy, Conen has enlisted the help of Assistant Director of Residential Life Rose Romett.
Romett, Conen and Temple’s RD’s and RA’s, brainstormed ideas to develop fan support. Instead of trying to create special events around the games, according to Conen, Temple is going to “focus on the games themselves and focus them as community events.”
This means creating more of a student-friendly atmosphere at the three home games at Franklin Field next season and three at Veteran’s Stadium.
Romett’s job is to get her RD’s and RA’s to get the students they are in charge of to sign up for the free season tickets. A job easier said than done.
“We feel like a lot of the student response has been positive,” Romett said. “Our plan is to be able to give them their season tickets when they come back next year.
“Everybody’s kinda doing it differently in the spirit of trying to get what needs to be done done.”
The request forms are available in all of the resident halls and other places on campus like the Independence Blue Cross Student Recreation Center.
Conen said he has already received over 100 forms.
Steve Belowsky is a Temple sophomore who was easily persuaded to sign up for his free season tickets.
“I enjoy Temple football and athletics in general,” Belowsky said. “I realize there’s a problem so any support football can get the better.
“If we can get all the students to sign up and go to all the games, we wouldn’t be having the problems,” he said. “If every student signed up, we’d be fine.”
So what would Belowsky do to put people in the seats? Would he hire a gangster, bring more acts like Jessica Simpson or the Village People to perform at games?
“Keep pushing that we are going to be a good team now, not (just) in the future,” he said. “If people just see that they might be more interested in the football team in general.”