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Rutgers Football Marketing Strategy For Season Tickets Misses The Mark

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Let me start by saying I have had season tickets for Rutgers football for years. However, they are technically in the name of one of my friends, so I still get email solicitations every season. Yesterday morning, I opened my personal email account's inbox and discovered an email from the Rutgers Athletics department.  I am omitting the account executive's name but it was a email address. The reason I say this is that after reading the email, my first reaction is this could not have been an official email from the athletic department.  Read below; I put the text in boldface that caught my attention and was a red flag for me.

Sent: Monday, April 25, 2016 8:40 PM

Subject: RU Athletics

I wanted to reach out to you and welcome you to the New Era on behalf of Rutgers Football! As you new personal account executive I want to make sure you have every opportunity to enjoy what is sure to be a tremendous Big Ten home schedule! I recommend considering the Mini Plan or a full season ticket to make sure you have the best seats and price for the Michigan  and Penn State games. You're able to get season tickets for cheaper than what you would pay for those two games on a single game bases.

For the Mini Plan: You can choose one game out of each category and they go on sale May 23rd
(A) Michigan or Iowa
(B)Indiana or Illinois
(C)New Mexico or Howard
Endzone price is $177 for 3 home games - $59 per game
Upper sidelines price is $210 for 3 home games - $70 per game

For full season tickets: Some perks of buying season tickets are better seat selections, able to buy a parking pass for the season, up to 80% tax deduction on the seat donation, and the ability to resell tickets on the secondary market - this is especially great because the Penn State & Michigan games will have a nice return on the secondary market!

Pricing is determined by seat location, but just for comparison I'll use the upper sidelines and end zone as examples.
Upper Level seats for $235 for all 7 home games
Endzone price is $305 for all 7 home games - $44 per game
Upper sidelines price is $340 for all 7 home games - $49 per game

Single games for Michigan in 2014 when they came to town were $170 on average.
Single games for Penn State in 2014 when they came to town were $180 on average.

Also, attached is the R Heroes flyer is this would be of any interest to you.
I know this was a lot of information - feel free to text/call/email me with any questions!
Account Executive | Rutgers Athletics

Now I don't want to make an issue out of a few grammatical mistakes, as writing for this site I understand mistakes can happen. What I find unbelievable and inappropriate is the marketing strategy of promoting the potential resale value of season tickets as a reason to purchase them. Not only that, but the email highlighted the home games against Michigan and Penn State as the best opportunities to cash in the most.  This is disturbing on several levels.

First, the idea of reselling your tickets for home games is not consistent with creating the best in game experience. While it's possible other Rutgers fans would buy them, it also is more likely that visiting fans, especially from powerhouse programs like Michigan and Penn State, would purchase them instead.  The Ohio State game last October was a perfect example of that, as Buckeye fans showed up by the thousands.  This message is inconsistent from everything new athletic director Pat Hobbs and new football head coach Chris Ash have been preaching this offseason.  They have made it a priority to reach out to students, alumni, and fans in an effort to create a better in game experience. How does encouraging season ticket holders to make their money back selling their seats for big games make sense?

Let me say I know that this is a reality, and I personally don't have a problem with season ticket holders selling their tickets at their discretion.  I hope they do it wisely, selling to other Rutgers fans for a reasonable price, but it is their right to do with them as they please.  But for the athletic department to promote that very idea in order to sell more season tickets is absurd. Yesterday, our new contributor Jim Hoffman wrote a great piece on how Rutgers has finally hit the big time playing in the Big Ten conference. Unfortunately, this type of action by our very own athletic department is anything but.

I understand the second part I highlighted in boldface is to give the buyer an idea of the savings they will have by purchasing season tickets, but it serves another purpose as well, unintentionally or not. It gives the buyer a real market estimate on what their potential gains could be in reselling their season tickets for those games. Again, a terrible message coming from our own athletic department.  Pat Hobbs, please say it isn't so?

I'm thrilled with the direction of the athletic department under Hobbs, who in just a matter of months has completely changed the perception of so many Rutgers alumni and fans.  Finally, we have a leader who is making sure we do things the right way, and positive results will likely follow. Ash and his staff have proven to be social media marketing mavens.  They are promoting the program in positive ways that have never been seen before at Rutgers.  We have so many reasons to be excited for the future. But this, the promotion of reselling season tickets to make money, which would drive up the market price for tickets and likely most Rutgers fans, is flat out wrong.

It's a small time mentality, which indirectly shows a lack of pride towards our very own school and program. We want people to buy season tickets because they want to support Rutgers football on Saturdays, not because they think it's a wise business investment.  I still have every confidence in the leadership in place at Rutgers and hope this is a minor blip in the grand scheme of things.  We already know what most other Big Ten fanbases think of us, and this move does not help their view of us at all. Can you imagine this message coming from Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, or Nebraska? We have a long way to go to get even close to the level of those institutions' athletic support and prominence. Emails like the one I received to resell season tickets is simply embarrassing and should not be acceptable.  Please fix this, Mr. Hobbs.

UPDATE: Rutgers AD Pat Hobbs responded and is taking action.