The USF Athletic Department has devised a new program to increase attendance at home sporting events.
Athletic Director Deborah Gore-Mann and Director of Ticket Sales Kyle Jansen have created the Student Rewards Program, offering students free USF merchandise for attending games based on a points system.
“We want to get more students at the games and reward them for supporting our teams and our school,” said Gore-Mann.
The program is intended to activate student participation on campus, increase school spirit, and create better communication between the athletic department and the students.
At the entrance of every USF home game, student IDs are scanned and points are awarded based on which sporting event you attend. Men’s soccer is one point, women’s soccer is two points, women’s volleyball is two points, men’s basketball is one point, women’s basketball is two points, and baseball is two points. Rewards are then given to students based on the number of points accumulated.
The first 1,600 students to earn five points receive a free Los Locos T-shirt. All who receive 20 points earn special access to Midnight Madness, an event at War Memorial Gym to kick-off the basketball season (the first 50 students to achieve 20 points receive a $25 Bon Appetit gift card). At 30 points, students earn priority seating at basketball games against Gonzaga; the first 50 receive lower reserve seats in Section B; 35 points gets you special access to Homecoming Fan Zone, and 50 points enters you in the Grand Prize raffle for two $500 bookstore gift cards and one $500 Bon Appetit gift card.
“The idea is popular in college sports in general,” said Jansen, who was first introduced to the idea as a student at Western Washington. “We got different organizations to help us by sponsoring our events.” Odwalla, the USF Bookstore and Bon Appetit are sponsors of USF’s program.
The Athletic Department held focus groups with students to determine why attendance at home games has been low in recent years. According to Jansen, the main issue was that students did not know about the games. To combat this problem, a new banner has been placed outside War Memorial Gym, near freshman dorms, with full team schedules.
The idea for the Student Rewards Program also came to the USF Athletic Department when Athletic Director of Marketing and Sponsorships Jeffrey Menard attended the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics conference and saw how successful Boston College has been with their Superfan Program.
Gore-Mann said the program could also be used at other events around campus besides sports. If another group would like to bring students to their event, the rewards program could offer point values for other events.
“It’s a good way to drive students and move them around campus to different events,” she said.
The Student Rewards Program has already returned positive results. According to Jansen, 150 students attended the first women’s volleyball game and 100 attended the first women’s soccer game; more than ever before. When combined with this weekend’s men’s soccer game, over 500 USF students attended sporting events this weekend.
Jansen said, “We are very happy; the program has been extremely successful.”