Creighton’s move to the new Big East is being met with ringing enthusiasm around the school’s ticket office.
Adrian Rider, Creighton’s director of ticket sales, said interest started picking up when the Bluejays were rumored as a possible member of the new conference. Since it was announced March 20 that Creighton was joining the Big East, Rider said, the ticket office telephones really started ringing.
“Usually, we get calls around this time each year inquiring about the process of obtaining season tickets,” Rider said. “But as far as the interest this year, we’ve never experienced the volume of calls we’ve been getting, especially since the formal announcement.
“People seem to want to make sure they’re going to be able to get in the door next year.”
Creighton sold a record 13,731 season tickets for the 2012-13 season. That total doesn’t include about 700 seats in the lower bowl for students.
The Bluejays averaged 17,016 for their 18 home games. The average per-game attendance will put Creighton in the top 10 nationally again this season.
Rider said the school plans to follow its standard renewal process for season tickets. Ticket-holders will be contacted starting in early May. They will have a month to decide whether they want to renew tickets or make requests for additional or fewer tickets.
Creighton will begin selling season tickets for the upper bowl at CenturyLink Center on June 3, Rider said. Seats in the lower bowl have been sold out since the building opened in 2003, and Rider said the renewal rate for those seats generally runs 99 percent.
“Right now, people understand that availability is relatively limited,” Rider said. “The lower bowl is landlocked. The interest for those seats are high but most people realize that those seats just aren’t available.”
Creighton Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen said that, despite the move to the new conference, ticket prices will remain relatively stable for next season. He said there could be a 2 to 3 percent hike, calling it a “cost-of-living increase.”
Rider said he expects interest in season tickets in the upper bowl to be high.
“People are excited about the move,” he said, “and about seeing the new matchups.”
Marquette, Georgetown, Villanova, Butler and Xavier are some of the marquee names that will be visiting Omaha next season. Those schools, along with DePaul, Seton Hall, Providence and St. John’s, are partnering with the Bluejays in the new league.
The expected increase in interest could leave Creighton officials facing a decision in the future about a season-ticket ceiling. That was discussed in the past, when the school was seeing a steady increase in annual season-ticket sales after moving from the Civic Auditorium to the newer facility.
Interest plateaued about five years ago and had started to decrease until the success of the past two seasons — the Bluejays have won 57 games and played in back-to-back NCAA tournaments — spiked sales.
“We haven’t had to entertain that discussion (sales ceiling) for the last four or five years,” Creighton Associate Athletic Director Kevin Sarver said. “I think it’s important to have single-game tickets available on a regular basis, but there are others on our senior staff that might disagree.”
In order to guarantee single-game sales, Sarver said, he’d like to see a ceiling set on season ticket sales at 14,500 or 15,000.
“Again, there might be others that disagree with me,” he said. “We don’t do anything around here without great pause, great consideration and great debate. We probably tend to over-analyze things, to be honest.
“I think if you asked the six members of our senior staff about that, you’d probably get six different answers.”
Everyone would agree that plenty of work awaits. The Big East still does not have a commissioner, nor does it have the infrastructure — bylaws and a league office — in place.
Rider said a conference call is set this week among ticket managers at all the member schools to talk about issues that will confront them next season.
“We all have a lot to do between now and next November,” he said.
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