Cal football fans, how do we improve the gameday experience?

Thearon W. Henderson

Big surprise: Cal football attendance sunk last season, with under 50,000 people attending a game (pretty remarkable for a team that went 1-6 at home). Given that the product on the field is still variable, what changes would you make to the gameday experience?

Avinash Kunnath: I'd make student tickets free again (save Big Game/USC and marquee non-conference games). The student section is starting to become a bit like the Bench at the end of the Braun era: Occasionally invested, but easily discouraged and quickly scattered. Obviously this is not a financially savvy move, but I'd argue student tickets make for a very small component of overall ticket revenue and could easily be offset in other areas.

I'd also encourage more of those group discount deals. Single person tickets aren't a very efficient model for generating revenue; get a bunch of people together and encourage them to attend games together and you might be able to latch people onto the experience. Buy nice tickets for a big game like Furd and get discounted tickets for BYU, stuff like that.

I have no idea what to do about the East Side. That side looks like a giant Pac-Man half the time. You can't lower the ticket prices without angering a bunch of alumni that have already bought in. I would recommend surveying potential buyers and seeing how much it would take them to buy in, compare that to the revenue they are currently getting from donors, and weigh the costs and benefits to find the best solution. This is where the big money has to be generated anyway.

LeonPowe: I'm not a huge fan of giving away tickets, because people get used to getting it for free and then when it comes time to pay, they'll think "why? they're just going to give away tickets free later." Since I just said that, I'm going to mention a free giveaway program - I would give student season ticket buyers a second ticket (one game) to bring their friends to experience a game - maybe make it freshmen only. Maybe make it available to everyone.

Group discounts should be a baseline - it shouldn't even need to be considered. Until we're selling out regularly, the ticket office should be running those - and I'm sure they do. Promotional days - e.g. high school band day, homecoming, these are pretty basic team sales things.

What I'd like to do is increase the fun actually at Gameday - the biggest complaint about the Cal gameday experience is a lack of tailgating activity or site or feeling. How about turning faculty glade into a giant tailgate? I know they have the family zone up on the field hockey field, but I think something a lot more focused on food, beverages and throwing the football and other tailgate games might be more fun than a bunch of inflatables which are family focused.

Leland Wong: Cal needs to find a way to have Memorial Stadium offer something that fans can't experience at home. With the prevalence of social media, there has to be some way to use it to engage the fans who are at the stadium. Cal Athletics could also foster the tailgate experience like the SEC, making gameday mean more than just the on-field product. And, for the love of Oski, let's just win to boost interest in our team.

Vlad Belo: There has to be a way to make the football experience in Berkeley more tailgating-friendly. Sure, we all know our spots that we like to go, and the Old Blues (and even Young Alumni) have perfected their tailgating experience. But for the casual fan who doesn't have the vested interest in the program or the love of Cal that we do, the lack of a "fun" pregame atmosphere is an impediment to attendance when the team is not doing well. Creating and publicizing family-friendly tailgate environments in the hours before the game might help with attendance.

Ruey Yen: Since I have not been to a Cal home game in the last decade, I don't know I can say anything concrete about the gameday experience. I do know that there is a sizable fan base for Cal Football that all we need to do is win to draw back the large crowd (and payoff the stadium upgrade). Maybe we can have more and better giveaways at the game (free games from Kabam! or people in attendance unlock special things on their Kabam games...if there is a large correlation between the two groups). I suspect that the attendance will decline in 2014 before hopefully a rebound in 2015 as the team becomes more exciting and high-scoring (if not winning).

Nick Kranz: The performance of the team is particularly unfortunate, because I think Cal has done a pretty good job making the in-game stadium experience pretty good. They have increased the amount of time the band plays. Wireless seems to work pretty well. The video features tend to be relevent stuff, and ads aren't as intrusive as they were a few years ago.

There are always interesting things happening on Goldman Plaza, usually featuring other Cal sports. There are frequent promotions and deals. The quality of food being offered is greatly improved.

But guess what? None of it matters if the team is abjectly awful. 'Luckily,' Cal fans are pretty used to bad football and an unusually high percentage will keep coming no matter what, but that number isn't enough to keep revenue coming in at the rate we would all like to see.

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