Sub-par 2016 football season not fazing Wildcat fans - Tucson News Now

Sub-par 2016 football season not fazing Wildcat fans

Sub-par 2016 football season not fazing fans. (Source: Tucson News Now) Sub-par 2016 football season not fazing fans. (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Are you ready for kickoff? Do you have your tickets?

The University of Arizona Athletics Department says "some" are still available, as they work to fill the 56,000 seat Arizona Stadium.

On Thursday, Aug. 31, Wildcats fans made their way up to the McKale Center Ticket Office windows to find their view. People, young and old, hand-selected their seats for the Arizona Wildcats' season opening football game against Northern Arizona University (NAU) on Saturday, Sept. 2, at 8 p.m.

"I'm picking up my season tickets. So, I'm ready. I'm looking forward to Saturday night," said Bobbi Leon, a season ticket holder for four years.

The outlook is positive. A new season means new hope for Tucson natives like Gary Sanchez, who was buying the single-game tickets.

"Season opener. That's what it's all about," he said. "Fresh look. They got new uniforms."

Getting ready for the season is a year-long process, according to Ben Chulick, the Associate Athletics Director of Marketing.

It's a 2017 football marketing campaign that Chulick is anxious to kick off. The department is starting by honoring a fan favorite.

The team will give away 10,000 bobbleheads depicting former Wildcats tight end and current NFL All-Pro player Rob Gronkowski.

Bobbleheads will be distributed through a voucher system beginning at the conclusion of the third quarter, according to the athletics department website. Learn how to get a voucher here: http://www.arizonawildcats.com/news/2017/8/7/football-fan-appreciation-night-set-for-season-opener.aspx

But will the giveaway incentive translate into ticket sales?

"That is going to be the million dollar question. We'll find out," Chulick said.

He's hopeful fans will fill the seats, even for a lower-division opponent like NAU.

"They don't have the same fan base that an Iowa has. So sure, Iowa brings a lot of fans, and a lot more attention. But you can't play Iowa every year," Chulick said.

On Wednesday, Tucson News Now reported that Tucson tourism is not expected to see a big boost for the football season opener, likely due to the close proximity of NAU's home city of Flagstaff only being a four hour drive.

Attendance last season, for seven home games at Arizona Stadium, averaged 48,288 people.

As a whole, Pac-12 Conference crowds declined three percent from 2015 to 2016, and were down 14 percent since 2007, according to a CBS Sports report.

It was also the Wildcats football team's first losing season since 2011.

"That's the beauty about college football, is that we're talking about 18, 19, 20-year-old kids. Every year could be different," Chulick said.

This season is a clean slate for Chavez, no matter the past.

"We're still going to bring the A-game. Still going to back up the Wildcats. Still going to be a great season," Chavez said. "Of course, have to go after those Sun Devils, too."

As for the cost, the ticket office said the most expensive ticket for Saturday's season-opening game is $405 in the various suites.

But you can still Bear Down and not break the bank. The least expensive ticket starts at $12 for adults, and $8 for children, on ArizonaWildcats.com.

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