When faced with a ticket sales dilemma for its football program, the Maryland Terrapins took a creative route -- selling the tickets on Groupon.
Ahead of Maryland's much-anticipated nationally televised Monday night game against Miami, the school still had about 2,000 seats to sell before achieving its Operation 54k sellout.
The school settled on selling a block of 500 tickets for $22 a ticket, which includes this free T-shirt. After running out of options through its main database, Maryland is hoping Groupon opens up a whole new group of potential Maryland fans.
We have a large database of Maryland fans that we've been marketing to for the last six months, Matt Monroe, Maryland's assistant athletic director for ticket services, told the IBTimes. Groupon gives us another database. It certainly gives us the opportunity to make pitches to new fans that we might not have been reaching through our other ways.
Media picked up on it and gently mocked the school's move, including popular football blog Every Day Should be Saturday. But Monroe doesn't foresee any major backlash or negative attention from this move.
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The seats we are selling via Groupon are the less desirable seats, the upper deck, the top rows, said Monroe. I don't think that there is going to be backlash. We've been on sale with season tickets since January; we've been out there giving our hard database plenty of time to order tickets, so we are looking for a new market to hit.
Maryland isn't the first college to offer tickets through Groupon, though it may be the most notable. Some other schools, including ACC rival Boston College, have also offered games through the online coupon service. Maryland actually experimented itself with the service last year in basketball, but saw only minimal success.
As of 8 p.m. on Wednesday, it had sold more than 400 tickets through Groupon -- a solid success for the school. If the school continues to experience success through Groupon, it could put other football games, like upcoming games against Towson and Temple, up for sale through the Web site.
Depends on the success that we have with the Miami game, said Monroe. How often we use it depends on factors like demand and that stuff. If we are successful I think we will try to keep using it.
Most interestingly about Maryland's struggles to sell out its much-hyped game against Miami, is that part of the rationale behind the 2010 firing of coach Ralph Friedgen was slumping ticket sales. When the school decided to buyout the coach, who happened to be an alumnus of the school, athletic director Kevin Anderson mentioned a need for a coach that can create buzz and boost sales.
Despite the need to sell tickets through Groupon, which to some could imply desperation, Monroe claims new coach Randy Edsall has helped boost ticket sales.
We've already eclipsed last year's season ticket total, he said. Even though we haven't played a game yet, our sales trends are certainly up from last season.