Monday, February 13, 2017

Fresno State’s Red Wave Turns Into Gray Wave as Bulldogs Struggle to Attract Young Fans

That's weird. Young fans weren't in short supply when I attended Fresno State in the late 1980s.

Indeed, the Bulldogs were the only game in town, and very popular.

Maybe not so much these days.

At the Fresno Bee:

Fresno State photo 3731_fresno_state_bulldogs-alternate-2006_zps2c5f3fd1.png
The empty seats at Bulldog Stadium and Save Mart Center for Fresno State football and basketball games are a troubling sign, but declining attendance is only part of a larger problem for an athletic department intending to get bigger and better.

The famed Red Wave, which helped build those venues and has served Fresno State athletic interests so well for so long, is going gray. And as is the case for most of the nation’s Division I schools, the athletic department is struggling to entice younger fans to games and build a sustainable base of season-ticket sales that account for a significant portion of its revenue.

Forty-nine percent of Fresno State football season ticket holders are 56 and older, according to a recent athletic department survey, with 9 percent 35 and younger. In basketball, 75 percent of season ticket holders are 56 and older and 4 percent 35 and younger.

“The math is not that complicated,” Athletic Director Jim Bartko said. “If we lose that revenue and it keeps going down, the budgets for all our sports will go down.”

Those numbers represent only those with season tickets who responded to the survey, and are not far out of line with national trends.

But Fresno State’s overall ticket sales have dropped sharply the past five seasons, a disturbing trend for a department that for years counted gate receipts as its second-largest source of revenue behind university support. In 2016-17, it is fourth behind university support, fundraising and a Mountain West Conference/NCAA distribution...
Still more.