Danielle Duncan has never been to a gameday inside The Swamp, and she doesn’t really care to ever experience it.

The 18-year-old software engineering freshman didn’t sign up for the student ticket lottery and isn’t planning on getting any tickets to spend her Saturdays in the student section of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

She said she doesn’t like football and normally just claps when other people clap at a game. She doesn’t like the cramped environment, either.

And Duncan isn’t alone. For the first time, student season tickets are not sold out yet, according to Mark Gajda, assistant athletics director with the University Athletic Association.

Gajda said this year, the department is 1,000 tickets below its average 21,500 UF band and student tickets — about a 5 percent decrease.

In the seven or eight years the lottery has been around, he said, this has never happened.

Gajda said students may not know to register for the season ticket lottery over the summer because they don’t check their UF email accounts and aren’t on campus.

“The student population this year just didn’t come out as much as previous years,” he said. “I think fans are still excited. July to August are just summer doldrums.”

The incoming freshman class typically buys the most lottery tickets because it’s the largest class by numbers, Gajda said. This year, the class distribution was normal.

Student season tickets cost $105 for seven home games this year. Unclaimed student tickets cost $15 per game, according to the Gator Ticket Office.

Any remaining student tickets will be sold to the general public before each game this fall.

While Gajda said fans will buy tickets to fill the Swamp’s seats, he admitted there is “less demand than supply” regarding student season tickets.

Regular season tickets, though, have been up by a few hundred more tickets sold, Gajda said.

Last season, three of seven home games were not officially sold out: those against Furman University, University of Alabama-Birmingham and Florida Atlantic University.

Gajda said the 2011 season was also the first time one-game ticket sales didn’t sell out at the end of the season.

Kimble McKay, a law student at Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, graduated from UF in 2010. He said he was shocked that student tickets weren’t selling out.

He still tailgates home games at Lake Alice Field, a tradition he’s kept with his family since he was 10 years old.

“Even though we haven’t done as well in recent years, I still go,” he said. “I think new students just have expectations so high.”

For some students, though, dollars matter just as much as touchdowns do.

Magdala Joseph, 21, said she would just rather pay her tuition bills than sign up for the student ticket lottery.

“It’s not as fun when the Gators aren’t winning,” the criminology and law and anthropology senior said. “If it becomes a season where games are worth watching, I’ll go. But I’m not motivated to go get unclaimed tickets right now.”

Antony Rivera, a 19-year-old information systems sophomore, said he got the student ticket lottery his freshman year but only went to one game. He said his friends never went, he didn’t have much time and the Gators’ losing streak last season was a “turn-off.”

“I personally thought it was a bad investment,” he said. “If you’re there and your team is losing, you’re just sitting there and that’s never fun in any kind of event.”

(8) comments

countdowncounty

Raising prices was a mistake. "students may not know to register for the season ticket lottery over the summer because they don’t check their UF email accounts and aren’t on campus" LOL we all check email 10x a day... tickets just aren't worth all that money right now

chloe

Athletic Association has become complacent and therefore not re-invested in improving fan experience at the game. Poor win/lose record is not an excuse for ticket sales - look at PSU who sold out their student and alumni section, and they have much greater problems to deal with. Some thoughts:

1) Focus on unique environment of Gameday in the Swamp - i.e. stop replacing UF traditions with pop/rock songs that get played at every stadium. By using the same tactics as every other sports venue, you dilute the unique gator fan experience.

2) Embrace students during game. I have gone to several big schools where student section gets more attention. Let the seniors run out on field and up to stands during one of the games. Create video submission contests each week (little skits like from gator growl) and play at some point. Have special guests come to UF and lead We Are the Boys. Borrow from MLB and how they involve the fans

3) This is a long shot - allow halftime re-entry.

Of course, winning will help but isnt the ultimate determinant of how many people come to the game. It is a unique experience that cant be replicated elsewhere - you dont want students/alumni to go back to their hometowns and go to a Dolphins or Magic game and say "hey, they do the same thing at the Gator games"

gatorrob91

I guess Magdala Joseph and Antony Rivera aren't familiar with the phrase "Gators in all kinds of weather..."

bowens
bowens

How is this even a real article? Are these students real people???

iyf

chloe is the smartest person ever. why cant the marketing dept figure this stuff out? more college atmosphere, less commercialization

cmontana15
cmontana15

The reason I don't go to Gators games isn't because of their "losing streak" or whatever, it's because I can't afford to spend $115 on a lottery for tickets.

chloe

Again, PSU tickets are $218 for the season and they arent winning. Again, I use PSU as the most polarizing of big programs right now - and yet they sell out all tickets. I come back to the idea that a unique game AND game day experience will bring people back. Of course, winning helps

Magdala J
Magdala J

Gatorrob91, I am familiar with that phrase. I don't go to this school because of its football team. Just thinking, "Oh boy! I can't pay for my classes, my books or my apartment but I'm still a Gator!" is not gonna get me anywhere. So in "bad weather" like this summer for me, being a Gator and getting tickets is the last thing on my mind.

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