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Syracuse Athletics to unveil new student ticket model

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Syracuse's students will have new ticketing options for next semester, split across four tiers.

UPDATED: April 18, 2017 at 3:03 p.m.

In an attempt to boost attendance among both students and alumni, Syracuse Athletics will unveil a new student ticket model on Wednesday — the first such move in at least 10 years, said Jeremiah Maher, SU’s associate athletics director for ticket sales and operations. Students will receive an email on Wednesday with sign-up instructions for the new 2017-2018 season pass, which will precede a rewards program set to launch this fall.

“Those of you who are diehard fans,” Syracuse Director of Athletics John Wildhack said last week, “we want to give you a rich experience. We want to give you the opportunity to do that and have some additional benefits.”

The student pass, set to open Wednesday, will operate for football, men’s and women’s basketball and men’s lacrosse. There are four options for students, each giving access to every SU home game while class is in session. Three of the four options include a priority points element, which includes additional benefits and carries into a student’s life post-Syracuse.

“What the university had been offering was a little plain,” Johnny Oliver, president of SU’s student section Otto’s Army, said. “We hope by offering more choices, returning students will be inclined to get student tickets again.”

This time last year, the administration of former Director of Athletics Mark Coyle had drafted a reward system plan. Those plans dissolved last May when Coyle left for the University of Minnesota.

Over the last few months, Anthony Di Fino, SU’s associate athletics director for business development, has spearheaded an effort to launch a new student ticket policy. He met with Otto’s Army and spoke with representatives from other schools to see what types of programs work. On Wednesday, SU will reveal the new plan, which the school hopes will boost attendance in the student section.

Throughout the ACC, a greater percentage of freshmen and sophomores buy ticket packages than do juniors and seniors. Herein lies one of athletics departments’ greatest challenges: implementing a system that draws students through the turnstiles. Di Fino said in October that SU was looking to “bring that drive back to the student section that was once there.”

While Syracuse men’s basketball attendance consistently ranks among the top in the nation — Syracuse has placed fourth or better each season since the Carrier Dome opened in 1980 — football attendance has lagged.

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Despite a new head coach, hurry-up offense and a victory over a Top 25 team, Syracuse football attendance finished the 2016 season second-worst in Carrier Dome history. National Division I FBS attendance has fallen in seven of the last eight years after peaking in 2008.

“When we look at football, one of our goals is to increase student attendance and overall attendance in the Dome. There’s no question,” Wildhack said. “The Dome can be one of the great home-field advantages in all of college football.”

Last summer, Syracuse upgraded Carrier Dome Wi-Fi speeds, video boards and scoreboards and ran its “No Huddle Tour” in Rochester, Buffalo and Binghamton, New York, for the first time since 2010, emphasizing “New York’s College Team.” Fans met players and coaches at the events. In the near future, Syracuse plans to add an air conditioning system to the Dome.

The new student ticket plan will mark the first step toward a rewards system this fall. Syracuse plans on a rewards system because of its success at other Power 5 universities including Miami, Florida State and Boston College, Di Fino said in October.

The first and cheapest option under the new plan is a student pass priced at $200 until May 10, granting access to all home games with no additions. After May 10, the plan will cost $220 because SU wants students to purchase it before they leave for the summer. That will operate the same as the current season pass, which costs $219 for all games while school is in session.

The second tier, student pass plus, is priced at $225. It includes $5 Orange Club donation and an Otto’s Army T-shirt. Orange Club is the group for all season-ticket holders, including nonstudents. The third tier, the student pass premium plan, is priced at $250 and gives students an invite to fall football practice, $30 Orange Club donation to start earning priority points and Otto’s Army T-shirt and hat.

The most expensive option is the student pass elite, priced at $300. It gives students first priority for postseason away games, a meet-and-greet with select head coaches, a tour of the Carmelo K. Anthony Center and Manley Field House, an invite to Carrier Dome for fall football practice and an $80 Orange Club donation to start earning priority points.

“How do you tailor to consumer taste?” Wildhack said. “In this case, it’s our students. You create your recipe.

“We’re excited to watch this.”

CORRECTION: In a previous version of this article, the timetable for the installation of an air conditioning system in the Carrier Dome was misstated. A date for the installation has not yet been set. The Daily Orange regrets this error.

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