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November 11, 1999 - Image 30

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-11-11

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


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6B - The Michigan Daily T-poff'99 - Thursday, November 11, 1999

The ticket problem - by the numbers

Here are the sales for Michigan men's basket-
ball student season ticket sales.:The data
include overall ticket applicants, season and
split-season packages sold.*
Year Qverai Sason Split*
1992-93 4,542 1,678 2,870
1993-94 4,267 1,999 2,268
1994-95 3,905 2,455 1,450
1995-96 3,830 2,404 1,426
1996-97 2,796 2,796 0
1997-98 2,200 2,200 0
1998-99 712 712 0
1999-00 944 944 0

Seven Big Ten schools have
a higher average atten-
dance per game than Crisler
has capacity (13,562). Here
are the top Big Ten schools
* in attendance for the 1998-
99 season.

It has been called the tomb or a fine place for alumni to take a nap.
Students are nonexistent, while football and hockey remain sold out.
Left with a mess, Michigan can only hope to ...
Just markets i
By MARK FRANcEscuTTIE DAILY SPORTS WRITER

School
1: Ohio State
2. Wisconsin
3. Indiana
4. Minnesota
5. Michigan St.
6. Iowa
7. Purdue
8. Illinois
9. Michigan'

AttJgame
17,223
15,770
15,328
14,709
14,591
14,173
14,123
13,173
11,139

* 3,100 total student tickets are available for each game.
**Split season gives students a half-year ticket package.

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At the beginning of the of the 90's,
Michigan basketball was at its
ighest peak. Coming off a
national championship and into the Fab
Five era it seemed like nothing could
knock down the Maize and Blue from
prominence.
But, like Microsoft and Windows,
Michigan couldn't hold on to its monop-
oly forever.
Rumors of the Wolverines swimming
near violations burst out. And suddenly
corruption and Ed Martin replaced
black socks and baggy shorts in
Michigan's basketball vocabulary.
Recruiting suffered, as opposing
coaches told high schoolers about the
leper named "Michigan." The quality of
basketball fell, drooping to a dismal 12-
19 record last season. And fans, espe-
cially students, disappeared from Crisler
Arena's seats.
But as Michigan fell down into a val-
ley, Michigan coach Brian Ellerbe
looked up the hill for a way out.
First, Ellerbe and his assistants did
their part, bringing in a top-ranked
recruiting class this season.
With the product on the floor likely to
improve, the only thing left is to bring
back the fans that once rocked Crisler.
And thanks to help from the market-
ing section of the Michigan Athletic
Department, the program is trying its
best to increase student presence.
THE TARGET: STUDENTS
One of the biggest stereotypes of
Crisler Arena has been its overwhelm-
ing alumni presence. Students often

trade jokes on how the alumni some-
times sleep during games. Nevertheless,
older Michigan fans don't provide near-
ly the noise that rowdy students do.
But the students line only three sec-
tions in the arena, conveniently placed
right where the tube-watching audience
sees a student crowd going nuts. And
even that group has slouched in recent
years.
The downfall is apparent, as student
ticket sales show a sharp decline.
Since the 1992-93 season, Michigan
has dedicated 3,100 seats to students.
More than 4,500 students applied for
tickets that year, but the numbers have
declined since - reaching only a dismal
712 last season.
ATMOSPHERE IS KEY
Critically acclaimed as the one of the
best college sports atmospheres in the
country, Yost Ice Arena doesn't look like
anything special.
The 75-year old building doesn't have
flashy luxury boxes, comfortable seats
or even a good furnace. But it does have
the magic potion in creating a fan-
friendly environment - great atmos-
phere.
Students line the entire bench-side
portion of the arena, the band is loud
and the fans are crazy.
Hockey doesn't play the starring role
at games - the fans do.
Students come to yell "sieve" at the
goalie, swear at a penalized opponent
and cheer for a dancing band director.
It's fun, it's exciting and one doesn't
need to know their offsides from their

hooking to understand what makes Yost
so great.
Then there's Crisler. And while bas-
ketball soars over college hockey in tele-
vision ratings and national popularity,
Crisler falls behind in the student recog-
nition department.
Ellerbe knew he needed an answer.
"Students are vital to our team's suc-
cess," Ellerbe said. "We want the stu-
dents to have a good time."
Ellerbe and Michigan marketing
director Tom Brooks, who was hired in
July 1998, laid out a battle plan to bring
the students back to Crisler.
"We want to give students an identi-
ty," Brooks said. "It's all about creating
an atmosphere."
FINDING THE STUDENTS' RAGE
Brooks found an answer by borrow-
ing an idea from many of Michigan's
rivals, including his former employer -
Georgia Tech.
Creating a student cheering section
was an easy decision after seeing stu-
dent fan groups like the Cameron
Crazies and the Izzone fill up their are-
nas with a sound that could engulf oppo-
nents.
So this past January, the marketing
department ordered 500 yellow T-shirts
with "Maize Rage" printed on them,
gave them to the small, but faithful, stu-
dent crowd and watched the results.
Students seemed pumped, and the
noise level at Crisler became louder
than usual. The splash of yellow made
Crisler's usual darkness just a little bit
brighter.
"If Crisler was known as a place to go
wild and have all this fun, I would buy
more tickets," LSA senior Nick Katopol
said.
To make it that wild place and attract
the casual student fan, the marketing
department increased the Maize Rage
influence this season by giving a free T-
shirt to all student season-ticket holders.
THE MARKETING MIRACLE
Brooks knows that gimmicks win
See CRISLER, Next page

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