Byting the Bowl Ticket Obsession

I have always been proud of State’s strong football fan support, particularly on bowl trips. This season, there have been various discussions about NC State’s Meineke Car Care Bowl ticket sales that feel just a little ‘different’ than normal. I am not in agreement with the direction of some of the conversations. So, in the absence of any leadership on this important public realations issue from NC State, I figure that I will chime in with some comments on what I am seeing:

===> The Carolina Comparison
Everytime I turn around, someone from the media AND from NC State is referencing “North Carolina’s 30,000 tickets sold last year.” What? You didn’ t know? Have you been in Iraq for the last 13 months?

I don’t believe that Carolina’s appearance last year is 100% irrelevant to a conversation about State’s trip, but I do believe that the level of prominence that UNC-CH seems to take in all of the articles about our bowl has boiled past the point of acceptable and has become excessive.

Take a look at what I mean in the following examples. In both yesterday’s News & Observer AND today’s Charlotte Observer where the authors could barely finish their sentence about NC State’s strong ticket sales before they were telling us about Carolina last year. In Ken Tysiac’s CLTOBS piece the information doesn’t even fit where it is crammed.

Charlotte Observer, December 14th:

N.C. State fans are more than halfway to meeting the challenge Meineke Car Care Bowl executive director Will Webb made when he invited the Wolfpack to play South Florida on Dec. 31 in Charlotte.

Late Tuesday, N.C. State had sold 16,000 tickets. North Carolina sold 30,400 last year for its meeting in Charlotte with Boston College in what was then the Continental Tire Bowl. Webb has urged N.C. State fans to meet North Carolina’s number.

N&O, December 13:

N.C. State has sold approximately 13,500 tickets for the Meineke Car Care Bowl since the Wolfpack’s Dec. 31 matchup against Big East foe South Florida was announced last week, State officials said Monday. (four sentences removed). Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium seats 73,238 people. Last year, North Carolina sold more than 30,000 tickets through its ticket office to what was known then as the Continental Tire Bowl.

Again, what our rival sold to this game last season is not 100% irrelevant in a broad conversation about our trip. BUT, the bowl game was announced TEN DAYS AGO. EVERY ARTICLE written since then has referenced good old Carolina. Does the media not realize that the WHOLE WORLD KNOWS that Carolina SAYS they sold 30,000 tickets to last year’s bowl game?

Obviously, the media clearly seek to use Carolina’s 30,000 tickets last season to define NC State’s “success” this season. Too many folks in West Raleigh are willing to oblige with this farce. I think this is ludicrous. NC State does NOT need a bowl trip to Charlotte to prove which football fans are more supportive of their school — simply look at a picture of any gameday from the last 5 years in Carter-Finley and in Kenan if you want an acurate portrayal of fan support.

The circumstances surrounding State and Carolina’s bowl appearances are EXTREMELY DIFFERENT, and I implore you not to fall for the media-trap of making this a contest between the schools without considering or understanding the differences.

Frankly, I would be shocked (and quite proud) if NC State sold anywhere close to 30,000 tickets to the Meineke Car Care Bowl this year. (Although, there will surely be close to 30,000 Wolfpackers in the stands, many of whom obtained tickets from other sources) Carolina in 2004 and NC State in 2005 are two completely different teams, in two completely different situations. It is those situations that are blatantly ignored when a narrow focus on the total number of ticket sales is discussed in a vacuum.

* Last year, UNC-CH was attending their first bowl in three years and their second bowl of the last six years. This year, NC State is attending our fifth bowl in the last six years

* Last year, UNC-CH was matched against a known team who was joining the Atlantic Coast Conference after the game. This year, NC State is matched up against a directional team that few know anything about.

Jeez. Which school do you think SHOULD sell more tickets?

Obviously, the respective fanbases are at completely different points of their “excitement cycle” (not to mention the more appealing opponent). I’m sure it would be way too much to ask for that level of insight and analysis from the same media that can’t stop obsessing over this “ticket race”.

===> Accurately Defining ‘Success’
The “success” of NC State’s participation in The Meineke Car Care Bowl has nothing to do with how many tickets Carolina sold last year. NC State’s success should be defined from the perspective of the bowl. Simple — Does NC State’s appearance in Charlotte generate a successful event for the Bowl?

With that in mind, any school in any bowl can only live up to their half of the bargain. NC State’s role as a bowl participant as the ACC’s 5th selected team is to provide the The Meineke Car Care Bowl more fans than any other ACC team that was availabel at the Meineke’s selection spot. Because Charlotte is home to many Wolfpackers, NC State should also provide more fans (than any of the alternatives) who spend the night and generate economic activity in the host city (Charlotte).

Bowl representatives have already stated that NC State was selected over Boston College and Georgia Tech because of the strength and proximity of the Wolfpack’s fan base.

N.C. State has sold over 16,500 tickets for the Meineke Car Care Bowl since the Wolfpack’s Dec. 31 matchup against Big East foe South Florida was announced last week, thereby xceeding the 12,500-ticket requirement set by the bowl. It is indisputable that NC State has already sold more tickets than the other ACC schools that was available to attend the bowl. In fact, State has already outsold one of the bowl’s candidates, Boston College, from the Eagle’s appearance LAST SEASON.

===> Basketball Conflict
Was I really the only person in the world who looked at the basketball schedule when it came out and wondered if we were going to have any kind of bowl conflicts with the George Washington game scheduled on the same day and at the same time as one of the ACC’s bowl games? I doubt it. But, please allow me to introduce Mr. Right Arm to Mr. Left Arm.

Regardless, a few lost Wolfpack souls are trying to treat the bowl game and the basketball game as a referrendum against each other. It really makes me sad. This is just another in the long line of obvious examples of some Wolfpackers who participate in a sick-twistedly divided fan environment where the Herb lover just can’t stomach Chuck Amato — which is so hypocritical since one of the key plays of the HSSS Handbook is that we should all support the coach no matter what.

If you don’t believe that these feelings exist amongst some, then I envy your idealism. But, there is no doubting that

This is NOT about Basketball vs Football; not about Herb vs Chuck; not about anything, really. In a perfect world, this scheduling conflct would lead to sellouts in both Charlotte and Raleigh to proclaim (yet again) that NC State has the most amazing fans in the country.

Personally, I’ll be in Charlotte at the Bowl Game. Given the option between the two, I don’t know how anyone could be conflicted about attending the bowl, because your presence at a once a year bowl game means a helluva a lot more than your presence at one of many out of conference basketball games.

Life is not always about the here and now. If NC State has a poor turnout in Charlotte, then what happens in the future when someone like the Gator or the Peach has a decision to make and chooses another team over the Wolfpack? I can hear them now – proclaiming that NC State didn’t even bring fans to Charlotte when the had the chance to play in a bowl game for which they should have been very thankful just to attend?

What if the Peach or Gator were trying to choose between NC State and Carolina for that slot? If you are in the RBC on December 31st, then I hope you never open your mouth about the situation. Then again, maybe Carolina’s appearance last year is more relevant than I thought? Well, it still doesn’t justify the fact that I have to read about it in every NC State article THIS year.

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20 Responses to Byting the Bowl Ticket Obsession

  1. Jon Smith 12/14/2005 at 9:19 AM #

    There are way too many Pack fans who spend half their life worrying about UNC. Some NCSU fans seem to be happier after a UNC loss than a Pack win.

  2. choppack 12/14/2005 at 10:06 AM #

    Jeff – Good summary. We share similar views on how the media manipulates certain things and leaves out key, very relevant facts.

    One thing, I’d have to disagree with – I don’t think a lot of Wolfpack fans are even conflicted with what to do – go to a non-conference b’ball game (before the season even heats up) or go to our last football game of the year – and the last games of Mario Williams, Manny Lawson, Marcus Hudson, Tramian Hall, Brian Clark and Oliver Hoyte. I’m not saying these folks aren’t out there, but I think they are few and far between.

    Regarding bowl attendance, I am hoping – probably against hope – that we bring 50K folks wearing red. I know that the opponent stinks, but as you’ve rightly mentioned, the conference and the media are watching this with a very critical eye. I honestly believe that they want those stands empty. I shouldn’t think that because some will label me a conspiracy theorist wacko, but with the heat the local papers are giving us – and the lack of positive coverage about us and preparations for our bowl game, forgive me if I do.

  3. Trout 12/14/2005 at 10:17 AM #

    I enjoyed everything about this article except the “Herb lover” and the “HSSS Handbook” comments. Otherwise, dead on.

    I’ll be in Charlotte for the reasons you stated. I’d be at both if I could.

    I think NC State will sell about 25k tickets through NC State, with about 45k Wolfpack fans at the game, and a total attendance number for the bowl at around 55-58k.

    At least we arent UVA, having sold less than 3k for their bowl game in Nasville.

    If you believe ticket sales are a referendum on the state of the program, are the UVa fans screeming the loudest?

  4. Rick Jernigan 12/14/2005 at 10:26 AM #

    I’ll be in Charlotte but there will be four Wolfpack fans in my BBall seats watching the one excellent OOC home matchup of the year. I am already anticipating the mood during my return trip to Raleigh – Ecstatic, conflicted or infuriated! As a life-long State fan, I’ve known them all.

  5. lumberpack 12/14/2005 at 10:28 AM #

    Do we have the worst AD and sports information office in the league-It seems so.

  6. BJD95 12/14/2005 at 11:08 AM #

    I just couldn’t swallow the cost of attending the bowl game, coiming immediately after a week-long family vacation. Since I got free tickets to the GW game, I’ll take one of my kids to that and tape the bowl game.

    It has nothing to do with an Amato/Sendek popularity contest. I’m glad I’ve avoided the message board discussion of that. For the record, I’m not that pleased with either man, although I’m slightly more critical of Amato at this point in time.

  7. Jeff 12/14/2005 at 11:10 AM #

    choppack & Trout,

    I appreciate your comments about the basketball situation in this entry. I fully acknowledge that the amount of people conflicted is very small; but, they do exist.

    Trout, I didn’t enjoy writing the comments that you didn’t like any more than you enjoyed reading them. BUT, ignoring this group of “fans” (especially since they find multiple avenues to personally attack me at every turn) and witholding comment about the situation (no matter how miniscule) could have been viewed as a ignoring a salient point related to the larger topic.

    I just chose to go with it. Thanks for registering your feelings about it in a nice tone.

  8. choppack 12/14/2005 at 11:20 AM #

    It amazes me that those fans do exist – I’m on the fence for both guys, but trying to be optimistic. However, to echo your points – this ain’t about programs vs. each other, it’s about fans and journalists looking at Bank of America and seeing a stunning sea of red.

    Here’s a thought: If we want to keep/build upon our reputation as the state’s best football fans (and I think that’s a reasonable conclusion one can draw) we need to outdraw or equal those Heels from last year. Granted, our opponent stinks, but we’ve had a long respite for bowls for us (1 year) – and well, I’d like to put the argument to rest – and let folks know that the Gator Bowl attendance wasn’t a fluke.

    I want every high school player in the state to know, when it comes college football in NC, “the” football school is NC State.

  9. newswolf 12/14/2005 at 11:25 AM #

    Do we have the worst AD and sports information office in the league-It seems so.

    How so? I don’t understand what an AD or SID has to do with this situation?

  10. Class of '74 12/14/2005 at 11:39 AM #

    I personally don’t care what the “Fix Your Tire Bowl” thinks as I would hope we never fall below the Gator, Peach or BCS bowls in the future. If “FYTB” prefers UNC that’s fine with me but the other bowls know NCSU will gladly come to their bowls in large numbers as they have in the past. And the media is all about controversy whether it’s naturally occurring or a creation of their own. Controversy sells papers and stirs viewers or listeners.
    Maybe the AD will get the idea that during bowl season we should play on the road then we don’t have this dilemma.

  11. choppack 12/14/2005 at 11:51 AM #

    Yea, Co74 – of course, one year, it could be Charlotte or Boise for us and UNC-Ch…and I would absolutely love it they chose us over the Heels because, hey, we brought 50K for a stinking game vs. SFU.

  12. Class of '74 12/14/2005 at 12:26 PM #

    I do understand your point but I don’t base my day on what happens in Chapel Hill. If we do the right things in Raleigh we can look in our rear view mirror when we want to see what they are doing. Unfortunately we have not been doing the right things, IMHO, for awhile.

  13. choppack 12/14/2005 at 2:08 PM #

    I consider UNC-Ch our rival in football. I don’t buy any of this FSU or ECU stuff. I think that a completely satisfying football season includes a victory over the Heels. (Put it another way, how satisfying would the Gator Bowl season have been if we lost to UNC-Ch, but beat UVa. In the same vein, how would have last year or this year been if we beat them?)

    So, I think we’re missing a step in our road to greatness if we don’t start seperating ourselves from them.

  14. Herb 12/14/2005 at 2:11 PM #

    The fact that State’s ticket office isn’t mailing out tickets might have an effect on our sales through the athletic department as well. Why should I drive from Charlotte to Raleigh to pickup a ticket for a game in Charlotte?

  15. SaccoV 12/14/2005 at 2:12 PM #

    Though the proximity of the bowl game is in our favor (in terms of having a rich turnout), I’m not going to be surprised if the number does not astoundingly exceed UNC’s “30K” from last year (point very well taken). The reason is some of the fanbase will take the Charlotte trip as a concession of a season that wasn’t, and choose not to attend because all of them feel as if a better bowl was well within this team’s grasp. I’m not saying this is representative of the entire fanbase, just enough to keep the number at 25-30K. I’m hoping for a great turnout and I would be going if long trips for Christmas didn’t ruin my budget and my patience each year. I think this article hits the nail on the head in terms of the media (or some elements) trying to present UNC and NC State equally, which is misguided and transparent. The schools are equal, haven’t been for some time, and it’s almost insulting to think that UNC’s “30K” to Charlotte will ever be as impressive as the numbers sent to Orlando and Jacksonville in the past. When UNC gets another bowl game that’s NOT in their home state, let’s see them pull 25 or 30K to watch them fold up like a cheap tent. State’s numbers will be there, but don’t be shocked if we hear tons of stories in the off-season about our numbers at this bowl game being comparable but not overwhelmingly superior to UNC’s from last year.

  16. wolfvols 12/14/2005 at 2:58 PM #

    I for one sold my tickets to the basketball game. The first home game against a ranked OOC team in at least 5 years and Lee Fowler decides to let TV dictate this to be held the same time as one of 5 non-BCS bowl times. Brilliant. I would of made sure that when creating the schedule that no tipoff times would coincide with any of the ACC bowl games. Just don’t let that possibility even think about becoming reality. Another brilliant move by Fowler.

    Hey Herb^^, you don’t have to come to Raleigh to pick up your tickets. You can pick them up on Dec 30 from 5-8 at the Charlotte Marriott City Center or on Dec 31 from 9am until halftime at the Bank of America Stadium (north gate).

  17. Jim 12/14/2005 at 3:47 PM #

    “Why should I drive from Charlotte to Raleigh to pickup a ticket for a game in Charlotte?”

    Say what? If you were even halfway paying attention you would know that there are Charlotte-area pregame ticket pick-ups. Both before gameday at the Charlotte hotel and at the stadium on gameday.

    I love how the media not only mentions UNC’s “30k” from last year every time they give out our current running total, but for good measure throws in some stupid crap about how we aren’t mailing tickets and that must be why our current total doesn’t match UNC’s announced gameday total. And we have fans (like this “Herb” guy) actually falling for this ridiculous garbage. I’m sure someone has pointed out by now that we didn’t mail them the Gator Bowl year and that didn’t seem to slow sales. One of the papers even asked one of the UNC-CH ticket employees about our “non-mailing” policy and got him to comment on it in print. What a surreal load of BS. I feel like Alice in Wonderland sometimes.

  18. choppack 12/14/2005 at 4:28 PM #

    “State’s numbers will be there, but don’t be shocked if we hear tons of stories in the off-season about our numbers at this bowl game being comparable but not overwhelmingly superior to UNC’s from last year.”

    Well, they need to show up like they did for Jax in the Gator Bowl year…I know, much worse opponent, more disappointing season, but apparently, we’re going to have to be clearly equal or better.

    There is an entirely different mood around our program than there was 3 years ago. However, if we’re going to be a “football” school or at least the best in the state, this is a good game to show it. 30k to 40k, would be good. 50K would make a statement even the media couldn’t deny. This is when the media would start spinning about how this proves we have an irrational fan base and blah, blah, blah. Missing, of course, the fact that maybe we were there not to support Amato, but the guys wearing red and because unlike our light blue brethren, we’ve got the football bug.

    Remember, no one thought we were capable of bringing what we brought to Jax. I have been to our last 7 bowls games, and I never saw anything like that. However, since that game, our home attendance has been very strong (you will rarely see this mentioned unless it’s used to admonish our fans for not supporting Sendek) – and I think we have the opportunity to make a huge statement on 12-31 as fans.

  19. dbo 12/14/2005 at 10:43 PM #

    good comments by all. I have to admit, i have had the same thoughts as Jeff on this one all along. UNC gave their coach an extension after last year, and our coach will go into next year on the hot seat. You tell me which team you would expect to carry more fans to a bowl game.

  20. Chico 12/15/2005 at 9:35 AM #

    Its a given that NC State fans have carried our football program. Remember, that Gator Bowl trip was simply because of the fan support we bring. Our football team finished behind UVA but because of our support, the Gator chose us over UVA to play Notre Dame. (It did not hurt that we had a headline player in Phillip Rivers either!).
    Isnt it about time that we finish a year in football such that all we have to do is take our won-loss record to the bowl committees and say “where do we deserve to go?” instead of “would you please take us–we bring alot of fans!”.

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