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Looking to boost attendance, Nevada football freezes season-ticket prices

Nevada-Portland State
Nevada has held season-ticket prices at Mackay Stadium firm for the 2019 season. (John Byrne/Nevada athletics)

The Nevada athletic department, which has seen a decline in football season-ticket sales five straight seasons, froze season-ticket prices for the 2019 season.

Nevada didn't make any changes to the 16 seating areas at Mackay Stadium after only minor adjustments the season prior. The end result has been stable ticket prices for the last two seasons. In 2019, prices range from a maximum of $25,000 for an east-side suite, which includes 20 tickets per game, to a minimum of $99 per seat.

After selling a program-record 12,783 season tickets in 2013, the Wolf Pack has seen its base fall in large numbers. Nevada sold 8,771 season tickets last season, a decline of more than 4,000 fans and a loss of better than 31 percent over a five-year period.

The Wolf Pack, which improved from three wins in Jay Norvell's first season to eight last year, did see an increase in average attendance last year, rising from 16,722 in 2017 to 17,181 in 2018, an improvement of 2.7 percent. That was with one of the better home schedules in program history that included games against Fresno State, San Diego State and Boise State, which were all ranked during the season, as well as the Pac-12's Oregon State visiting Reno.

The home schedule is not as attractive this season, which could make sales a little more difficult, although Nevada will host the Big Ten's Purdue as well as in-state rival UNLV. Hawaii, San Jose State, New Mexico and Weber State also come to Mackay Stadium this season.

The Wolf Pack's 17,181 fans per home game ranked ninth out of 12 Mountain West teams ahead of only UNLV, New Mexico and San Jose State. The MW, which drew 23,862 fans per game in 2018, posted the lowest average attendance in its 20-year history last season. The MW ranked seventh out of 10 FBS conferences behind the five power conferences as well as the American Athletic Conference. The MW's 4.4 percent decline last season was the second largest of the 10 FBS conferences behind only the Pac-12, which saw a 6.1 percent decrease. Falling attendance marks have been an issue nationally.

Nevada has opted to combat those numbers by freezing season-ticket prices. Prior to last season, the Wolf Pack made some minor changes, including:

* Increasing section D (the 40- to 50-yard line on the west end) from $575 to $675

* Increasing sections C and E (the 25- to 40-yard line on the west end) from $525 to $550

* Decreasing sections J and K – the 30- to 50-yard line on the east end – from $550 to $500

* Decreased sections B and F – the 30-yard line to the goal line on the west end – from $425 to $399

* And decreasing the east-side suits from $29,000 to $25,000

Each section will stay at the same pricing level in 2019 as it sat in 2018. Here is a breakdown of those pricing levels.

East-side suites: $25,000

Premium loge: $9,100

Loge boxes: $8,100

Club seats: $1,225

Premium field: $675

Priority field: $399-$550

Field Reserved: $155-$195

Family section: $125

End zone GA: $125

Plaza reserved: $99

The Wolf Pack has seen decreased attendance marks under Norvell despite an improving product. Only two of Norvell's 12 home games have surpassed an announced attendance of 19,000, those being contests with Boise State (21,431) and Oregon State (20,462) last year. Nineteen of the 24 home games in the Brian Polian era surpassed 19,000 fans, with eight drawing crowds of 23,000-plus fans. But attendance waned late in Polian's final season at Nevada, one of the reasons he was fired following his fourth campaign, and it's been a struggle to get fans back into Mackay Stadium.

Since Nevada changed its reporting method from actual attendance to tickets distributed in 2012, the last two seasons have marked the lowest-attended years at Mackay Stadium. That likely has more to do with the situation Norvell inherited rather than anything he did, as Wolf Pack fans showed great enthusiasm for the post-Chris Ault era before a decay in both season-ticket holders and average attendance since. With Nevada coming off its highest win total since 2010 as well as a win in the Arizona Bowl, the Wolf Pack is hopeful it can boost attendance marks in 2019.

Here is a look at Nevada's season-ticket sales and per-game attendance in recent years.

Nevada season-ticket sales

2010: 11,452

2011: 12,315

2012: 11,864

2013: 12,783 (program record)

2014: 11,846

2015: 11,352

2016: 10,021

2017: 9,174

2018: 8,771

Per-game attendance

2012: 23,432

2013: 24,939 (program record)

2014: 23,862

2015: 22,170

2016: 18,500

2017: 16,722

2018: 17,181

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