Monday, January 31, 2011

Georgia Tech Basketball Attendance Watch: Atlanta Media Warming Up To Idea

I first mentioned how Georgia Tech's attendance at basketball games would shape Paul Hewitt's future after the home loss to UGA back in early December.

I felt at that time Hewitt had lost so much of the fan base with that loss to the hated Bulldogs adding on to the last five seasons of frustration the majority were done supporting him.

And looking at the attendance figures since then, I was right.

Now, the Atlanta media is warming up to this idea with Mark Bradley calling out the attendance last week after the home win over Virginia Tech (thought it was odd timing considering the win), this weekend's Sports feature by Tech beat writer Doug Roberson, and today on Atlanta's two sports stations, 790 The Zone and 680 The Fan discussing the matter with callers.

All four have brought to light what I thought six weeks ago. Attendance and revenue, not performance will be the downfall of Hewitt.

Now onto the Maryland game which Tech lost 74-63 moving their record to 10-10 overall and 3-4 in ACC play.

The Terps and Jackets drew a listed attendance of 6,257, which is a 68% full arena.

Averaging around $35 per ticket, the lack of a full Alexander Memorial Coliseum cost Tech $102,690 alone. This figure does not include seat licenses which govern most of the arena, parking, concessions, or merchandise. All of those combined would easily double that total.

If we add Maryland to the running total we come up a total loss of $517,395 in single game ticket sales alone. We are probably approaching the $1 Million dollar mark when you add in all the items I mentioned above.

Back to the assembled Atlanta media. Mark Bradley's column isn't worth talking about much. I think the guy has it out for Hewitt big time and decided to post his column after arguably one of Hewitt's best wins in the last few years. The Jackets pulled away from a team that will likely make the NCAA Tournament and frustrated one of the best players in the ACC, Malcolm Delaney, all night. I wouldn't be surprised if Tech revoked Bradley's media pass after that one.

But a much better piece was done by beat writer Doug Roberson who compiled an AJC survey as well as a survey done by Tech given to season ticket holders who did not renew.

As you would expect, the AJC survey was much more scathing on Hewitt than the survey done by Tech. I think fans feel a sense of reservedness when talking directly to the Tech Athletics Department rather than a media outlet like the AJC.

For what its worth, the Tech survey said the top two reasons for non-renewals were: lack of ability to go to games and lack of ability to pay for tickets. The third was displeasure with Hewitt.

Roberson got some responses from fans surveyed that will raise some eyebrows, including this one which I cannot reason with:
"I finally stopped buying football season tickets last year after 44 years solely because of Hewitt's incompetence," wrote Ray Easterlin, who bought basketball season tickets for 25 years before he said he stopped early in Hewitt's tenure. "It was the only way I could impress on [President Bud] Peterson and Radakovich how strongly I felt about Hewitt. He is an embarrassment."

Really? You didn't purchase football tickets with Tech coming off its best season in 20 years because you wanted to punish basketball?

But back to Roberson's piece, he goes on to point out the financials of Hewitt's contract which in case you didn't know include a rollover clause that renews every April 1 essentially giving the Tech head coach a constant six year contract at approximately $1.25M per year.

I originally thought this would be the last year of Hewitt if the attendance showed like I thought it would but...

In Part Two, I will give three reasons why I think IF Georgia Tech is to get relieve Paul Hewitt of his duties it happens not after THIS season, but after NEXT season.

Running total of lost ticket sales revenue:
UGA $86,310 lost without a full arena
Sav. St $24,195 lost without 75% full arena
Mercer $15,980 lost without 75% full arena
Charlotte $22,500 lost without 75% full arena
UNC $37,310 lost without a full arena
Wake Forest $109,515 lost without a full arena
Va Tech $118,895 lost without a full arena
Maryland $102,690 lost without a full arena
TOTAL $517,395 in ticket sales alone

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