Friday, April 16, 2010
Do fans need to pay for more UofL athletic events?
"Hey, Abbott! Let's go see the UofL softball team this weekend!"
"What...and fork out $2 when we can catch Bellarmine softball for free?"
"But...Abbott...Bellarmine doesn't have Melissa Roth or Kristin Wadwell..."
"OK...but the $2 is coming out of your hot dog and soda allowance..."
(Please note that UofL softball IS NOT charging for the games this weekend. The above parody of the popular comedy duo is only a segway to the question on whether UofL should consider charging fans for the sports that are considered "non-revenue" right now. God forbid we start a college women's bobsled team...but I'd probably go watch them if we did. Summer practice facilities might be hard to come by.)
With the news that UofL baseball coach Dan McDonnell wouldn't mind seeing the University charge admission for UofL baseball games, one wonders what is next.
Currently, you can walk right in and watch baseball (unless it is Kentucky) free.
Same goes for most of the women's athletic events at UofL...excluding basketball and volleyball. All but one UofL softball game each year is "on the house" (Kentucky, again) but there will be a charge to watch the Big East softball tournament at Ulmer Stadium. That...most fans are OK with. But clouds are forming on the horizon.
I will acknowledge that season ticket holders for women's basketball and volleyball aren't being gouged too badly at all. Lady Cards basketball is the best value for your entertainment dollars out there. That changes, though...if you are a football or men's basketball attendee. Expanded and new venues are well under way for the main two revenue drawers at UofL. Someone's gotta pay for it.
God forbid that the day comes where one has to plunk down a few bucks to go view a lacrosse match or field hockey game. I shudder to think that you might have to flip down a Lincoln or Jefferson to watch the Cards softball team play DePaul or Dayton.
The non-revenue sports. They stay mostly out of the limelight at most major universities. The vast majority of them don't receive live play by play radio or TV coverage and they get scant mention of their results from the major media outlets. If 600-700 show up for a softball game or lacrosse match...that is considered a very good attendance. By how many numbers would that decline if someone is collecting a five spot or couple of Washington's at the gate?
I can't tell you whether McDonnell will win his quest to convince Jurich to start charging baseball fans to watch the Cardinal nine to take the field. What I can tell you is that the athletes do like it when there are people in attendance to watch them participate. The more the better. Katie Oliverio and Melissa Roth are excellent athletes but receive nowhere near the attention that an Angel McCoughtry, Brian Brohm or Terrance Williams did. I'd put Pam Bustin's field hockey bunch up against all comers in terms of endurance and agility. How many times, though have you seen them on TV? Would collecting $2 at the gate get them on Wazoo or Fox Sports South?
I'll say it again. Would charging money to watch them play change that?
I hope McDonnell fails in his attempt to charge for Cardinal baseball. If he wins, he has started a cancer that might spread to other sports that don't draw nearly the crowd attendance.
We pay a CAF fund each year because we have football and basketball tickets. I always thought that the CAF fund helped out the lesser attended athletic events. Many of the teams also have preferred organizations you can join (for a fee) associated with their sport. The Fastbreak Club for women's basketball. Softball and volleyball...even baseball has these donor based clubs. I like the idea of these clubs. I don't like the idea that the door is trying to be forced open where I'm going to have to shell out a couple of dollars to take in a field hockey or tennis match.
Where does the money trail stop?
Written by Paul