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For the second straight year University of New Mexico football season tickets are down with 6,213 sold as of Wednesday, said Dave Williams, UNM’s deputy athletic director.
In 2017, three weeks before the Lobos’ season opener, UNM had sold 7,900 season tickets. Last year, during the same part of August, 6,861 season tickets were sold.
Williams and his staff are doing their best to weather a storm that has been the result of various changes: A new multimedia rights deal with Outfront Media Sports Inc., as well as various hires and departures. All the transition has produced numerous challenges.
“We are attempting to build trust and turn the ship in the right direction,” Williams said. “We are not there yet. But ‘attempting to’ is the realization of what all goes into selling a football ticket. … We are trying to understand the relationship with the community with everything we do, attempting to build the trust back with the community.”
With UNM’s season opener approaching Saturday against Sam Houston State, Williams and the Lobos’ marketing staff have intensified efforts. They’ve made special offers available to sell more season tickets and/or five- and four-game packages.
Two weeks ago, Williams said he called for more traditional marketing, including advertising in magazines, newspapers and on television, as he said it was sorely lacking.
Back in June, the Lobos lost a key man in their marketing department. Jon Washington, the assistant athletic director for marketing, left to work at Lamar University. Washington had been in charge of marketing for football, Williams said.
UNM is in the final stage of interviews to hire for the position that Washington left vacated, Williams said.
UNM coach Bob Davie realizes the football team’s success is part of the process of marketing, he said. Two straight 3-9 seasons provide more challenges. But there’s more to it than that, he said.
Before preseason camp began, Davie addressed the issues of gaining more fans at home games.
“There is a direct correlation between marketing dollars, marketing efforts and how many people you put in the stands,” Davie said. “… Let’s all be realistic when we say how many people come to Lobo football games. Let’s not hold that against the players because there’s not enough people there. It is what it is.”
Williams believes UNM’s marketing plans will improve.
Amid the changes for the Lobos, UNM assistant director of marketing Jamie Mondragon has been a valuable resource, Williams said. She has been in her position for only a year, but she is a UNM alumna who also interned in the marketing department before working for two years as a marketing assistant.
Williams and Mondragon said the Lobo football team’s wins and losses are not critical factors when it comes to marketing or enhancing the game-day experience at Dreamstyle Stadium.
For the first time, tailgating areas will be available to reserve at a cost, Mondragon said. The RV parking for tailgating will be located in the Dreamstyle Arena – The Pit lot rather than at the east side of the stadium.
“Basically what we want when people are coming off that interstate, is just to see that college football atmosphere,” Mondragon said of the new RV parking for tailgating. “When it’s in Stadium East, it’s tucked away, and I feel removed from that atmosphere.”
The Howl Zone, located along Avenida de Cesar Chavez across the street from Isotopes Park, is getting revamped, Mondragon said, and it will be among several featured attractions during game-day experiences.
There will be a general area for the public, and another area within for alcohol, that will include food trucks and live music.
UNM targeted to start its home games at 4 p.m., just as the Lobos will kick off the season against Sam Houston State, with the intent to draw more fans to the stadium, Williams said.
The Lobos didn’t want the games to start too late because that would be a problem for many, especially young families, when the games end even later at night.
UNM also didn’t want to start the games too early because several youth events occur on Saturday mornings, Williams said.
UNM home games that do not start at 4 p.m., such as the one against New Mexico State on Sept. 21 at 2:30 p.m., were scheduled at a different time due to TV contracts.
Sam Houston State at UNM
4 p.m., 770 AM/94.5 FM, themw.com