UC Will Close Upper Deck at PBS in 2014

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Season tickets for 2014 Cincinnati Bearcats football went on sale Monday morning, and there are a few bits of info worth noting that were released at that time.  The team, of course, will spend this Fall playing its home games in purgatory at Paul Brown Stadium, home of the NFL’s Bengals, while Nippert Stadium on campus is being renovated and expanded.

The first newsworthy item is that there will be no seating available in the upper deck at Paul Brown Stadium in 2014.  UC athletics has released a seating chart for Paul Brown Stadium on CatsTix.com, which shows that the upper decks of PBS will be closed for Bearcat home games.

Closing the upper decks on both sides of PBS figures to reduce capacity by somewhere around 22,000-23,000 seats, making the capacity for Bearcat games roughly 43,000.

I absolutely LOVE this move by the athletic department.  It will create a much more intimate environment for UC football while playing downtown. Obviously, it’s unrealistic to think that UC would sell any more that 43,000 tickets to any game this year, given that the only two marquee games are on the road.

Forget about the games against Oklahoma and West Virginia when PBS was more or less full and rowdy.  What you’re going to see on a typical day this year will be similar to the Louisville game played at PBS in 2011, which drew a crowd of 40,971.

40,971 is a pretty respectable crowd for a Bearcats home game, but it seemed like PBS was half-empty.  UC left the upper deck (300 level) open, so many seats in the lower deck were empty – especially in the corners.  The atmosphere for that game was clearly less than ideal.

Now, imagine if those 40,971 had all been sitting in the lower (100 level) and middle (200 level) decks.  Having every seat full gives the feel of a sell-out crowd, and carries the excitement and energy that go along with it.

Bravo, UC!  I was hoping this would happen, and I think it’s a genius move for the game day experience at PBS.  Now the athletic department just needs to convince Mike Brown to let UC paint Bearcats logos in the end zones on Saturdays so that PBS feels more like home.

 

The other newsworthy item that came out today are ticket prices.  They are pretty much the same as they have been at Nippert the past few years, which is perfect.  Think back to the Oklahoma and WVU games in years past that drew crowds approaching 60,000 at PBS.  The atmosphere at those games was great, but if you recall, UC was practically giving away tickets in the upper deck for those games.  I am going off memory alone, but I seem to remember that most of the seats in the upper deck were somewhere around $15.  Filling the stadium was great for atmosphere and looked good on TV, but you can’t make money selling tickets for $15.  This is a big reason why those games at PBS weren’t a financial success for UC.

For you economics scholars out there, closing the upper deck will have the effect of lowering supply.  Going from 65,000 to 43,000 seats is perfect right now for UC (and coincidentally, fairly close to what Nippert’s new capacity will be).  Well, at least we hope that’s what it will be.   Okay, I digress.  Having a smaller capacity will allow UC to sell tickets at normal prices.  The cheapest single-game ticket at Nippert last year was around $32.  This will allow the 2014 season to not be a complete financial disaster for the athletic department.

Further, UC has put a very reasonable price tag on club seats in the 200 level.  These can be had for $225-275/season ($37-45/game), plus UCATS donation, during this year at PBS.  This will help ensure that these seats are full (the club level was also notoriously empty in 2010 and 2011), but it will also give potential buyers of club seats at the New Nippert a taste of how good those seats are, which should help those seats sell out for 2015.

 

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