It's time to have a frank discussion about the Weber State University football team.
I figure since I've now officially attended one game this year -- and thus made a modest donation to the program through the purchase of a general admission ticket -- it gives me as much right as the next guy to add my two cents worth. What's more, while I'm a University of Utah graduate, my wife and two of our children attended Weber State. Meaning, while we may not bleed pure purple in our house, most of our bodily fluids are at least a healthy magenta color.
In other words, we care about Weber State football. Maybe too much.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not here to discuss the fortunes -- or, more accurately, misfortunes -- of this year's team. It is what it is. Football squads will have their ups and downs, and the outcomes of both games and seasons hinge on many factors -- some of which are completely beyond our control.
However, there are things that can be done to make the experience of attending a WSU football game an enjoyable one, whatever the final score.
One of these things, the school has already started doing: hosting a tailgating party. Before Saturday's game, WSU was offering free food, prizes, contests and big-screen TVs tuned to -- what else? -- college football. It was great fun, if only sparsely attended, and with any luck it will inspire Wildcat fans to begin holding their own parking-lot parties before games. Perhaps fans could start to develop the same kind of tailgating tradition that goes on at other schools.
Ah, but there's something else the school should be doing: giving the fans their money's worth. And that's just not happening right now.
Currently, general admission tickets to a Weber State football game are $12. And as much as it pains me to say this, the Wildcats just aren't a $12 team.
I mean, how much does it cost to get into a high school football game these days? Six bucks? Think a team repeatedly getting thumped in the Big Sky Conference is worth twice that?
Ooh, I just had a cool marketing idea: "Weber vs Weber!" Have Weber State University play an exhibition game against Weber High School every year. (And if they're worried about lopsided scores, I suppose the Warriors could spot the Wildcats a couple of touchdowns.)
But seriously, wanna fill the stands? I've said this before: What WSU athletics really needs to do is establish value-based pricing for football tickets.
Here's how it works: General admission tickets at the beginning of the season would start at a reasonable $5. Every time the Wildcats win a game, ticket prices go up by 50 cents. Every time they lose, ticket prices go down by the same amount.
So then, taking this season for example, tickets to the opener against that one dude Stephen F. Austin would have been $5. WSU won that one, so tickets to the next game would have gone up 50 cents. However, they played the next three games on the road -- all losses -- so by the time they returned to Stewart Stadium for the Homecoming game against Sacramento State on Sept. 28, tickets were down to $4. That loss, plus two more away-game losses would have dropped tickets to $2.50 for last Saturday's Montana State game. Which they also lost.
Weber now has four games left in the season, including home games against Southern Utah and Idaho State. Theoretically, if the Wildcats were to continue their losing ways, tickets for the Southern Utah game would be $1.50; and by the time the final game of the season rolled round, here in Ogden against Idaho State on Nov. 23, tickets would be just 50 cents apiece.
Ah, but what if the Wildcats lose that last one?
Guess who gets to see next year's home opener for free ...
Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at @Saalman.