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Star-Bulletin Sports

Saturday, December 2, 2000

U H _ F O O T B A L L

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Warrior fans Don Dela Pena, left, and his wife Diane
Dela Pena take a look at their new hat with the new
Hawaii logo on it a few weekends ago.

$tadium time

It's not cheap to attend
Warrior football games,
but fans aren't whining

Cost comparison

By Ben Henry
Special to the Star-Bulletin

A family of two adults and two children can expect to spend at least $52 for tickets and parking to attend a University of Hawaii football game, the second highest amount in the Western Athletic Conference.

A recent survey by the Star-Bulletin of the 13 conference schools and Hawaii's non-conference opponents found that Hawaii's cheapest tickets rank third overall as the most expensive single-game or season tickets and parking for a four-member family, behind San Jose State ($78) and Wisconsin ($64).

"We review ticket prices annually and try to take in several factors before we make a decision to raise prices," said UH associate athletic director Jim Donovan. "Some of the those factors would be the quality of opponents, cost of operations for the whole athletic program, when the last time we raised prices was, what our competitor universities are charging and how the economy is doing locally."

The university raised ticket prices after last year's 9-4 Oahu Bowl season.

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Robert Pa of Waianae tries on a new UH windbreaker
with help from concession worker Giovanna Aguilar.

"Someday we may be the highest price in the WAC, but it depends on those factors," Donovan said. "However, we're trying very hard not to become unaffordable."

Hawaii has the fifth most expensive football ticket averages for both single games and season tickets, at $15.50 and $15.13 a game, respectively, when compared with the other teams in the survey.

But Hawaii is relatively more expensive for families because many other schools offer a family package. It is, in fact, among just three schools surveyed that do not offer a family or group package.

"We offered group packages up until a few years ago, but probably because of the record of the team there was very little activity with that," Donovan said. "Family and group packages are something that we'll take a look at in the future."

Further, Hawaii is one of just three schools in the survey that charges its students for tickets.

"What (the other schools are) trying to do by not charging their students to attend the games is to fill the stadium with students and create a real college atmosphere," said Jeth Jacalne, a student at Honolulu Community College. Community college students are also eligible for UH student discounts. "But over here, that doesn't work. For one thing, the students here can't just walk over from their dorm rooms and head over to the stadium and fill the thing up. For another reason, UH sports (especially football) are not so much college games, but rather community games. The emphasis has always been on the community and not the college itself."

Donovan says that while Hawaii may be one of three teams surveyed that charges students admission, it is a misleading fact.

"Many schools across the country receive portions of student fees to offset the cost of running an athletic program," he said. "It's fairly common that schools receive over a million dollars in students fees. We don't. But we still want students to be an active part of our event, that's why we charge only $3 (per game, including a $1 handling fee). We don't make much money off them, but we want them to be there because it adds such a great atmosphere to the game, and, ultimately, they're future alumni."

Aloha Stadium's $3 fee for parking was among the most reasonable in the survey. Some Wisconsin parking lots charge as much as $15 for one evening.

But six schools surveyed do not charge for parking at all.

"The university does not control those charges, Aloha Stadium retains those revenues," said Donovan, who pointed out that just 8,000 stalls accommodate Aloha Stadium's 50,000 seats. "I would say that our issue is not really with the cost of parking, but the amount of parking. We and Aloha Stadium (officials) have tried to do many types of things to try to increase the parking around Aloha Stadium."

Meanwhile, many fans attending a recent UH game had few complaints about the money they were spending.

"You can't put a price on the kind of fun that we're having," said 25-year-old Marc Orbito, a computer specialist and UH fan of 13 years who especially enjoys tailgating before a game. "We don't come just for the game, we come for the camaraderie, the social aspect."

"Based on my income, (the price) is okay," said 32-year-old Brad Robinson, who is employed by the Army and has been in Hawaii for two years.

"For an adult, I think $19 is pretty fair," said Bill Keith, who is also employed by the Army and has been in Hawaii for five months. "Three dollars for parking, I don't think that's bad at all."

Family-friendly venues

"The biggest complaint I have," Keith said, "is that I had to pay $19 for my daughter. I just thought I would get cheaper tickets for kids. The only tickets they had for those were in the end zone. There should be some kind of added benefit in trying to attract kids."

Hawaii does offer reduced prices for end zone seats to those 18 and under, good for the sixth cheapest youth price of the schools surveyed.

And while those prices only apply to seats in the north end zone, most other schools surveyed limit youth or family pricing to certain sections of the stadium as well.

"Basically, you take your highest valued seats, whether they be first class on airplane or sideline seats at a football game, and you charge whatever the full rate is," explained Donovan. "Price discrimination is not exclusive to collegiate sports. It's used by many (businesses) to increase total sales. We want families to be able to attend the game, but we don't want them taking up the highest value seats."

Also, Hawaii joins Louisiana Tech and Southern Methodist as the only schools that do not offer some form of family or group ticket packages.

For a family of four, Hawaii ranks 11th out of 13 in terms of affordability, according to the Star-Bulletin survey.

Texas El Paso, with a family package for season tickets for two adults and up to three children, is the most affordable, at $75.

Texas Christian is second, charging $96 for season tickets for two adults and two children to sit in what's called the "Family Frog Zone." It costs just $48 per each additional adult season ticket, and just $24 per each additional child's season ticket.

Nevada-Las Vegas has an interesting package, offering four single-game end zone seats, four hot dogs, four popcorns and four drinks for $48.

And while San Jose State's cheapest tickets for a family of four was the highest of those surveyed, it's worth noting that three of its five home games offered a family package of some sort, but that wasn't factored into the equation for this ranking.

"Right now we're not (offering a family package)," Donovan said. "We want to make sure we're not decreasing our revenue. We want to get new customers, not have old customers lower their support levels."

Concession prices

While the cost to get inside Aloha Stadium is among the most expensive in the conference, food can get a bit pricey once inside as well.

The cheapest 20 fluid ounce beer inside the stadium is $4.75. But two 12-ounce beers at a 7-11 are just $2.30 before tax.

There were various prices for soda, with stadium fountain soda running at $2.25 for 24 ounces and $2.75 for 32 ounces. A 20-ounce bottle of soda is $2.50. But at 7-11, a two-liter (67.6 ounces) bottle of soda was $1.99, before tax.

A small bag of candy in the stadium is $1.50, while a slightly bigger bag of candy at 7-11 is 55 cents before tax.

And fans can expect to pay as much as $7.50 for a plate lunch with a serving of meat, rice and macaroni salad.

"I guess that explains why there are a lot of tailgaters," said Keith, who has also attended North Carolina State, Dallas Stars and Boston Celtics games. "We haven't been on the island that long, and just driving around and seeing all the people eating, we thought that was unusual."

Said Orbito: "It's a little pricey."

While Donovan said the university has "zero control" over the prices of concessions, he pointed out that while Aloha Stadium prohibits bringing outside food inside, prices must remain reasonable.

"It's traditional that the cost of concession food would be at a premium above market costs," he said. "However, a big factor in the cost of concession food is the amount of rebate the concessionaire is paying to the facility. The higher the rebate, the higher the prices will ultimately be to the consumer. Sometimes this will be self-defeating, as the prices get so high the consumers don't purchase or try to sneak the food in."

Donovan, who has been with the university athletic department for 19 years, said high concession prices may not be the only reason for the high amount of tailgating before UH games.

"That could be a factor, but I think the bigger factor is that you turn the football game into a social event," he said. "You get some time to meet with your friends at the end of the week. I think it's more a social aspect. However, if concession prices were lower, people would eat less in the parking lot and buy more inside."

As far as merchandise is concerned, prices range from the affordable to the extravagant. A penny pincher can spend $2 for a megaphone, while someone with deeper pockets can shell out as much as $55 for a UH jacket.

Value shopping

Fans look for two basic things when determining whether or not they feel the cost of a game is worth it -- how Hawaii is doing and the strength of its schedule.

"They have to bring more big-time opponents," said Orbito, who usually attends three or four games a season, but was pretty much absent when Hawaii went 5-31 under coach Fred vonAppen.

This attitude is reflected in attendance figures. In the top five years of average attendance since 1990, Hawaii has a combined record of 37-24-1. In the other almost six years, Hawaii was 15-54-1.

"If they were winning, (the prices) would be alright," said Alex Bejonia, a UH fan.

It doesn't appear that ticket prices necessarily keep many fans away.

"I don't think (lower ticket prices would encourage more attendance)," said UH fan Steven Matsuda, 37. "If we want to come we'll just come."

Donovan isn't surprised by those fans' attitudes. "Value is determined by price and quality. What they say makes a lot of sense," he said. "(Coach) June (Jones) is doing a real good job improving the quality of our team for the long run. And we'll continue to have some exciting non-conference opponents in our future schedules. And as far as the conference goes, we're starting to develop rivalries against Fresno State and San Jose State, so that will help."

 | | |

Football values

The cost of attending a University of Hawaii football game compared to the school's 12 opponents.

HawaiiFresno St.La. TechSan Jose St.NevadaTulsaTexas-El PasoTcuSmuRiceUNLVPortland St.Wisconsin
2000 record3-76-43-97-42-94-78-39-13-83-85-58-47-4
Home games8545 (season tix 6)565665567

General (per-game average)

HawaiiFresno St.La. TechSan Jose St.NevadaTulsaTexas-El PasoTcuSmuRiceUNLVPortland St.Wisconsin
Single game$15.50-$19.38$18.80-$34$15$18.60$20.80$8-$16$8-$25$13-$21$10.50-$27.50$15-$20$12-$22$8$16-$28
Season ticket$15.13-$17.38$16.60-$19.80$15-$25$18.33$12-$20$8-$16$10-$85$10.83-$18.33$10-$25$18$10-$17$6.67$28

Youth (per-game average)

HawaiiFresno St.La. TechSan Jose St.NevadaTulsaTexas-El PasoTcuSmuRiceUNLVPortland St.Wisconsin
Single game$11.50$18.80-$34$10None$15.40None$6$8$5.83$10Free (3 and under)$5None
Season ticket$9.63$8.80$10$16.67NoneNoneNoneNone$5NoneFree (3 and under)$4.17None

Student (per-game average)

HawaiiFresno St.La. TechSan Jose St.NevadaTulsaTexas-El PasoTcuSmuRiceUNLVPortland St.Wisconsin
Single game$4$5-$8FreeFreeFreeFreeFreeFreeFree (included in fees)FreeFreeFreeNone
Season ticket$9.63$6NoneNoneNoneNoneNoneNoneNoneNoneNoneNone$12


HawaiiFresno St.La. TechSan Jose St.NevadaTulsaTexas-El PasoTcuSmuRiceUNLVPortland St.Wisconsin
Fee$3$6 car, $15 RVFree$8 FreeFree$3$5FreeFreeFree$5Varies

* General to premium **

Concession prices

These are prices of concession foods at various stadiums:

HawaiiLa TechS.J. St.TCUUNLV
Small friesNoneNoneNoneNone$2.50
Hot dog$2.75$2.50$2.50$2.50 $3
Regular soda$2.25$1.50$2.50$2.50$2.50

Note: Wisconsin did not provide prices of individual items, just the combined price of $11 for four items not including fries, saying it was against policy.

2000 UH Football Special

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