I was intrigued by Seth C's link to the Daily Toreador Article about Texas Tech's record breaking ticket sales for the upcoming 2010 football season.
The article helped to answer a few questions I have been having about the Texas Tech season ticket sales.
How could Texas Tech break ticket sales records given the fact our economy remains in the doldrums?
How could Texas Tech break ticket sales records given the upheavals of last season?
The story we've heard from Texas Tech is that students and fans have rallied around Tuberville and the school. Sounds like a good story. I like the sound of it too.
But is it actually true?
According to the DT's article, it appears that, in absolute terms, Tech has sold 46,546 season tickets breaking all previous records. This is a remarkable achievement.
That being said, lets take a look behind the curtain to see if we can understand this number a little better.
For the first time that I can recall, Texas Tech is including student tickets in its total ticket sales announcements. I don't have a problem with this per se, and I am not aware how other schools publish their sales figures.
However, as the article states, Texas Tech's previous high water mark was reached in 2008 when Tech sold 30,092 season tickets - a figure which did not include student tickets.
This reporting distinction between the 2008 and 2010 ticket sales figures suggest that Tech has decided to change (cough, inflate) the way that it reports its sales figures.
Fine by me.
When we remove the 12,458 student ticket sales in 2010, we come to a figure of 34,088 season ticket sales to non-students.
Again, in absolute terms, it appears that Texas Tech has exceeded ticket sales to non-students in 2008 by almost 4,000 tickets.
Again, a remarkable achievement.
Let's look a little closer
Absolute figures are all good and well, however, as we've discussed here before, if you lose $1,000 in a poker game, that probably means a bit more to you and me than it would for say Bill Gates.
In the same fashion, it is useful to normalize sales figures based on the stadium's existing capacity.
In 2008, Jones Stadium had a seating capacity for 53,000 people.
In August 2008, based apparently on the football team's moribund performance, Texas Tech approved a $25 million expansion which would build a further 1,000 seats, 550 club seats and 26 luxury suites. In May 2009, Tech approved a further $6 million expansion to create another 6,000 seats.
Based on these figures, Jones Stadium's capacity is now listed at 60,454 seats (which leaves us about 122 seats shy of the projected capacity). For the purpose of this discussion, the difference is not significant. I've also seen seating capacity figures as high as 61,000.
So, to recap, based on improvements, Jones Stadium capacity increased to 60,454 in 2010.
The 53,000 seating capacity in 2008 and the 60,454 seating capacity in 2010 are your two denominators
Normalizing the Figures
If we look at 2008 ticket sales, which do not include student tickets, Texas Tech sold 30,092 tickets. If we divide this figure by the 53,000 seat capacity in 2008, we can observe that Texas Tech sold about 56.8% of its total capacity.
Similarly, if we take the 2010 season ticket sales of 34,088 and divide this figure by the current capacity of 60,454, we can observe that Texas Tech sold 56.4% of its total capacity. (If you use 61,000 as your denominator, the percentage of total capacity sold falls to 55.9%)
Based on these comparisons we can see, on a normalized basis, that Texas Tech has actually not outperformed its 2008 ticket sales efforts, although it could come close. By selling another 240 season tickets, Tech could equal its 2008 performance.
Since we don't have student ticket figures for 2008, it hard to calculate how the overall 2008 and 2010 figures compare. However, if we assume that the 12,458 student ticket sales in 2010 are equivalent to the 2008 student ticket sales, the normalized spread between 2008 and 2010 widens further.
Including student ticket sales, 2008 total capacity sold increases to 80%, while 2010 total capacity sold increases to just 77%.
Although, I was not on campus in 2008 (past my time), I would think that the student sales ticket figures might even be higher, given the expectations for that year.
This item is a little harder to assess, especially since I believe that selling an empty seat for even $1 is better than not generating any revenue at all (as is the case for the Men's Basketball team).
Plus we need more data to properly analyze.
However, according to the DT article, all of $149 and $239 packages in 2010 have sold out. The remaining available seats I presume are in the higher priced general and club seating.
Furthermore in the DT article, Dave Welsh, assistant athletic director for ticket operations at Texas Tech, notes that Tech dropped ticket prices in 2010 for the first time since 2006.
This quote suggests that Texas Tech relied on some degree of price discounting to increase sales figures in 2010.
This point is relevant insofar as understanding that in 2008 fans were obviously willing to pay a "full price" to watch the 2008 team and are by definition paying a lower price to watch the 2010 version. Such discounting inevitably increases sales, although it lowers profitability (which is still better than nothing!)
However, before we can conclude that Tech relied solely on discounting (a claim I am not making, although I believe discounting undoubtedly played a big role), we would have to understand whether or not ticket sales prices referred to by Mr. Welsh includes the Red Raider Club surcharge and what year that surcharge came into effect.
In summary DTN readers, yet another reminder to read the fine print.
In spite of the hyperbole, I am proud of the job that that Ticket Office and Tuberville have done to rescue what otherwise could have been a pretty bad situation for 2010.