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Want a $1-Million Bump in Ticket Sales? Start Dialing

New OrleansAttendance woes have many people in college sports concerned, as ticket sales make up about a quarter of all generated revenue in Division I athletics. A couple of dozen colleges have stepped up their sales and marketing efforts, and new research shows what sort of impact that is having at the gate.

According to two Illinois State University researchers, the most successful athletic departments are making as many as 3,500 phone calls every week to try to sell more tickets. And the tactics are paying off, with many departments bringing in $1-million or more a year in additional revenue, according to Nels Popp and Chad McEvoy, who did the research.

After surveying all 340-plus Division I members, the researchers found 84 programs where at least one member of their staff was making so-called “outbound” ticket sales calls. Fifty-three of those 84 programs provided their average number of sales calls per week. They ranged from three calls to 3,500, with a mean of 655.

In addition, the researchers collected ticket-revenue data from 26 Division I institutions showing the impact of a more directed sales effort. Those programs saw a 15.4-percent increase in ticket sales, on average, in the first year they implemented an outbound-calling program, going from $6.28-million in sales, on average, to $7.25-million.

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