Neal Brown has already done what Dana Holgorsen could not.
At least indirectly.
At least in the last five years.
The new WVU football coach has stopped the downward trend in regard to Mountaineer season football tickets.
“We’ve sold approximately 25,000 season tickets,” said WVU senior associate athletic director Matt Wells on Monday. “It looks like we’re going to end up pretty much flat compared to last year — which will stop the trend of five straight years of declining season ticket sales.”
It’s a remarkable achievement. Preseason prognostications are almost 180 degrees from last year at this time. The Mountaineers are picked to finish in the bottom half of the Big 12 with the loss of Will Grier, David Sills, Gary Jennings, Yodny Cajuste, David Long, etc. Yet enthusiasm for Brown – along with a little hustle from Wells’ staff — has apparently gone a long way.
The associate AD also said the “mini” ticket package sales are “up about 25 percent.”
“We’ve sold more than 5,100 ‘minis’ so far,” Wells said. “Last season we sold 4,200 or so. We’ve also sold more single game tickets to date compared to last season at the same point.
“We still have plenty of work to do because we sold a bunch of tickets in August, September, October and November last year. But our trending is on a good pace as it relates to single game sales.”
Adverse to change? A little behind on technological advances?
Well, if you’re a WVU sports fan, you can relax.
For this season anyway.
As Mountaineer fans might know, third-tier games have been on AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh (formerly Root) and other regional carriers. Then there were announcements about “Big 12 Now” and ESPN+.
What does it mean to the casual Mountaineer fan?
“The most important thing is nothing changes this season,” Wells said. “So the James Madison football game will be on AT&T Sports Net. Six to eight men’s basketball games will be on AT&T Sports Net. A couple women’s basketball games will be on as well. So nothing changes immediately.
“But starting in August of 2020 – basically a year from now – any game you previously found on AT&T or one of our Nexstar affiliates on the linear side or on WVUSports.com on the digital side will be available on the ‘Big 12 Now’ platform through ESPN+.”
In other words, you’ve got a year to get technologically savvy if you aren’t already. Oh, and you’ve got a year to stash some money as well.
Those interested will have to shell out $4.99 a month or $49.99 a year for ESPN+. That will get you access to most major mobile and connected-TV platforms like iPhone, iPad, AppleTV, Android devices, Roku, Chromecast, FireTV, XBOX One, Playstation 4, Oculus Go and Samsung connected TVs.
If you’re older (which much of WVU’s loyal fanbase is), ask your kids. You’ll have to join the 2020s to enjoy the lower-tier Mountaineer football and basketball games not aired on ESPN, ABC, Fox, etc.
“It’s not just for men’s basketball and football though,” Wells said. “It’s women’s basketball and our Olympic sports, like men’s and women’s soccer, gymnastics, wrestling, volleyball, baseball – any event we’ve streamed on WVUSports.com in the past. It will only be available through ESPN+ and the ‘Big 12 Now’ application.”
It’ll be fascinating to track the numbers.
Pitt, for instance, is also disappearing from AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh for the ACC Network. Will Panthers’ fans follow? I have my doubts.
Then again, WVU fans are very passionate about their Mountaineers. When they can’t find a men’s basketball game on TV, temperatures rise.
So, in the end, I expect ESPN+ subscriptions to be substantial.
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