Friday, August 16

BOT's Version Of "Openness and Transparency" Extends to Joyner and Athletic Department

Information about season ticket renewals, ticket packaging, and Nittany Lion Club membership have been anything but "open and transparent."

Ray Blehar

While many people predicted dire consequences for the PSU football program as a consequence of the Sandusky scandal, last year's successful season proved that the majority Penn State fans stayed loyal to Dear Old State.  

Of course, the problem with using last year as a measuring stick is that most fans had renewed their Nittany Lion Club membership and season tickets before any on the following disasters that occurred last July 2012:
-- the BOT's tacit acceptance of (the fraudulent) Freeh Report;
-- the University's removal of Paterno's statue and criticisms of Paterno;
-- the BOT's roll-over to the NCAA in accepting sanctions;
-- the BOT's effort to get the alumni and fans to "move forward," and;
-- the overall disrespect shown by the BOT to PSU alumni and fans.

Given all this ill-will by the PSU BOT towards the alumni, who only want to know the truth, the consequences of the BOT's actions would be exposed by  indicators beginning in February 2013.  Those markers were, in chronological order:  Nittany Lion Club (NLC) dues (February); Club Seat and Suite licenses (March); and season ticket renewals (May).

Now that we are just weeks away from the 2013 season kicking off, little to no information about the  indicators has been provided by PSU.   To find out that information, you have to dig around to figure out what is happening.

Read more here:

Nittany Lion Club Renewals

This information appears to be guarded better than Fort Knox.  Typically, the NLC posts a spreadsheet of the priority point standings in the spring after the dues are collected -- but the 2013 point standings have not been posted.  More openness and transparency?

However, years 2008 to 2012 were posted  and the figures show a decline of nearly 1,500 members in the NLC from 2011 to 2012.  Also, note that 2011, the first year of STEP, shows a spike in lower level contributors.  That is exactly what STEP was supposed to encourage - bringing new fans to Beaver Stadium using the lure of premium seating.  But it appears that 2011 was a fleeting success, as the new fans appear to have departed as quickly as they came.

Season Ticket Renewals and Attendance

The fog continues around the number of season ticket renewals.  While this number should have been known in May, it has become apparent that renewals are down.  In a letter dated August 9th, 2013, the AD Joyner offered current season ticket holders the opportunity to purchase additional season tickets for just the price of the tickets, with no additional donation (of course, other terms apply).  Current season ticket holders can only purchase up to the quantity of their 2013 donation level, so this offer is nothing more than the University asking the donor to purchase tickets for which he or she is already eligible.

The seats offered are in the red, yellow, and blue zones and are bench seats (based on the pricing of $385 per seat).  Chair back seats are not part of the deal, thus the offer is likely aimed at filling the nosebleed seats right below the suites and press box.  To obtain the seats, you must call the ticket office and cannot use Ticketmaster's virtual venue option.

While the actual number of renewals has yet to be released, Ben Jones of received this statement from the Athletic Department:

"Ticket numbers at this time of year continue to be active and a bit of a moving target," Associate Athletic Director Greg Myford told "But as it pertains to current season sales, total 2013 season tickets sold and paid in full to date is 89% of the season tickets purchased last year.  As a point of reference, in recent years, the renewal rate has hovered between 91-95%.  Obviously, that 89% will only increase as fans continue to purchase season tickets between now and the start of the season."

Based on press reports, PSU sold approximately 68,000 season tickets in 2012.  If the renewal rate for 2013 ends up at 90%, the number translates to 61,200 season tickets.

Looking at the 2013 season, the average attendance for the games should be in the neighborhood of 91,000 or at 85% capacity.   I arrived at this figure by adding projected season tickets (61,200) to student tickets (21,000) to other sales (8,000).  The latter figure assumes that game day and outside sales will be at the same rate as 2012, which is probably optimistic.

Trends in attendance have been declining since 2007. The 2012 season was the fifth straight year of attendance declines at Beaver Stadium, but the bottom really did drop out last year.  Attendance figures are as follows:

2007:  108,917 
2008:  108,254 
2009:  107,008 
2010:   104,234 
2011:   101,427 
2012:     96,700

Average attendance in 2012 stood at 96,700, however, 2012 was notable as it notched six (6) of the ten smallest crowds in Beaver Stadium history since the 2001 expansion.
RankAttendanceDateGame result
190,358Nov. 18, 2012Penn State 45, Indiana 22
293,505Nov. 24, 2012Penn State 24, Wisconsin 21
393,680Sep. 22, 2012Penn State 24, Temple 13
495,636Sep. 24, 2011Penn State 34, Eastern Michigan 6
595,769Oct. 6, 2012Penn State 39, Northwestern 28
696,461Sep. 3, 2011Penn State 41, Indiana State 7
797,186Sep. 1, 2012Ohio 24, Penn State 14
897,828Oct. 29, 2011Penn State 10, Illinois 7
998,727Sep. 10, 2005Penn State 42, Cincinnati 24
1098,792Sep. 15, 2012Penn State 34, Navy 7

The declines in attendance were certainly not attributable to the exciting brand of football being played by O'Brien's Lions, but part of an overall declining trend in attendance exacerbated by the fallout of the Sandusky scandal (and by fall-out, I mean the actions of the BOT).

It's clear that PSU needs to figure out a way to get more fans in the seats in 2013, however, the ticket packaging option for the Michigan and Nebraska games being put forth by Joyner is more likely to drive fans away than bring fans in.

Ticket Packaging

When I heard of the ticket bundling "offer" that requires  the purchase of an Eastern Michigan ticket with the purchase of a single game Michigan ticket and the purchase of a Kent State ticket required for a purchase of a single game ticket with Nebraska, my mind immediately went to Pitt.

For the final PSU-Pitt game of the mini-series that ended in 2000, Pitt required the purchase of a Temple single game ticket with the purchase of a PSU ticket.  Pitt usually deploys this tactic once a year when they get a marquee opponent on the schedule, such as Notre Dame or Ohio State.  Essentially, at Pitt, it's a tactic aimed at visiting fans who will not attend the lesser game and take the loss on the ticket (or attempt to sell it on the secondary market).

Joyner Described the new packaging this way:

“The thought process was, ‘How do we stimulate continued interest in our football games? How do we stimulate people to want to come to the stadium?’ ” Joyner said. “It’s just a new way of looking at it. How we’re going to market those games and get people in the stands.”

Let me go out on a limb here and say a much more honest and effective approach to market those games with Eastern Michigan and Kent State and to get people in the stands would be to REDUCE the prices of tickets.

Dr. Joyner's rationale behind ticket packaging - much like the EMU and KSU tickets themselves - isn't going to be bought by many.

And it's this kind of dishonesty by Joyner and his former cohorts on the BOT that is contributing mightily to turning fans away from Beaver Stadium.

Full disclosure: I kept my season tickets and attended all but one game in 2012 (missed Wisconsin due to deer hunting) and have kept my season tickets for this year.  


  1. "How do we stimulate continued interest in our football games? How do we stimulate people to want to come to the stadium?" How about this Judas??? Kick your own ass to the curb so we can get a real AD in the office, hopefully one that's respected, unlike you, and insist that the 11/9 board members all step down! The seats will begin to fill up!

    1. Exactly. WE WILL NOT as alumni "move forward" until Joyner, Erickson, and ALL the 11/9/11 BoT members are gone, ASAP. THEY are the problem. They cannot deny this. THEY WILL eventually be held accountable.

  2. Ray: you are right on target with this. We were in the top 1% in the NLC in points, having been Honorary Coach level donors (which entitles you to 10 tix and 2 reserved re lot parking spaces) for well- decades. With the step program, our seats in EG lower level got hammered with the seat license fee for RED, plus the $385 per ticket season price. We also got chair backs on our seat- so add $50 for those seats (back problems and they no longer allow you to take a chair back support cushion into games. So we were looking at $5,000 donation level, $4,050 for season tix with 4 chairback seats, and the $4,000 seat licence. Not easy in this economy when you are in your 60's and exist on commission checks/sales.

  3. "STIMULATE", is awfully darn close to "SIMULATE" (which may be what Joyner really meant to say). LOL

    As we all know, O'Brien thinks last year's team were "all a bunch of F'ckers!"

    1. O'Brien was talking about the BoT, Erickson and Joyner.

  4. Ray, I am running out of superlatives to describe your work - intelligent, thorough, insightful, well-written, meticulously researched, logical, keen analysis... Thank you for making these complicated issues easy for the rest of us to understand.

  5. these collective incompetents (The BoT, Joyner and Erickson) are doing their best to DESTROY Penn State football. They are corrupt, inept and have no qualifications to do the jobs they defaulted into when the BoT made its power grab back in Nov. 2011. They removed a very competent AD who had made Penn State into one of the elite schools in the B1G Ten. Now we are back in the pack, despite O'Brien and his staff's best efforts to keep Penn State at the top of the competitive heap where it belongs. There is only one clear solution here. STOP Joyner and his misguided, revenue-losing ideas and policies and get back to making getting tickets easier like it was before. A full stadium at lower prices ALWAYS looks better than a 7/8ths filled stadium that panders to the BoT elitists collective greed.

    1. Mac,
      Please tell us how you really feel about Erickson, Joyner, and the BOT....

      ...they will only be stopped with handcuffs. I'm working on it.


  6. I liked the article quite a bit but I need to add one other thought. My wife and I had four season tickets for 35 years. We gave them up just prior to the 2012 season. We would meet family and friends up at State for re-unions at large pre-game tailgates. The parking system implemented has taken every lot near the stadium and converted them to single car, $90 per day, per car, parking. This destroys the ability to park 3-4 cars together and have a picnic pre-game of 30 to 40 friends and family. They have pushed all of that far away. We finally gave up. So did many of our friends and family. We still attend a few games a year but the good days are over. The parking program chased my family away. The parking cost was a significant portion of the game day spending for we out of town guests. As we were pushed out of our lots we had used for years and years I honestly felt State did not care if we were there or not. I bet they would welcome us back now!

    1. Thanks, Mike. I agree the parking cost is exorbitant - especially when it cost $40 to park miles away.

      They are going to need to rethink everything involved with the football experience at PSU.

  7. We had season tix forever. Gave them up two years ago. Now I go to any game I want for less, much less. Still pay exorbitant Penn Stater Nittany Lion Inn rates, but... I need to buy a townhouse there, it would be cheaper. Going to Syracuse...wish I qualified for those $25 student seats.

  8. How the BOT can justify putting Joyner in this position is mind boggling. Joyner was an orthopedic surgeon. After that, he owned health businesses that went belly up (declared bankruptcy). He sat on both boards of the Hershey med center and PSU. What on Gods green earth makes anyone on that board feel he's qualified to run one of the largest - and most successful -athletic departments in the country. Then to keep him in place (with a nice 6 figure salary) for two years? It makes zero sense... unless of course there are other (fiscal) reasons they want him there. They should stop the bleeding and cut bait with him yesterday!