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Nevada's season-ticket base down for sixth straight season, falls 8.2 percent

Nevada attendance
Nevada's season-ticket base has fallen for the sixth straight season. (John Byrne/Nevada athletics)

The Nevada football team's season-ticket base has fallen for the sixth straight year after the program lost more than 700 supporters this offseason.

The Wolf Pack has sold 7,877 season tickets for the 2019 campaign at the start of business Friday, the school told Nevada Sports Net. That is down from 8,580 season-ticket holders last season, a year-over-year decrease of 8.2 percent.

Nevada had 9,174 season-ticket holders in Jay Norvell's first season (2017) and has seen a two-year decrease of 1,297 fans, a decline of 14.1 percent, during his tenure despite an improving product on the field. The decrease from last year to this year was due in part, the Wolf Pack said, because the athletic department is trying to cut down on the number of comps and trade-outs. That accounts for about 300 of the lost season-ticket holders, per Nevada.

This offseason, Norvell and his team made it a point to try and engage with Nevada's fan base, and student fans in particular. The Wolf Pack is coming off an 8-5 season, including a bowl win, its highest win total since the historic 2010 season. But season-ticket sales decreased coming off that campaign. Across the nation, attendance at college football games is down, although not as sharply as Nevada has experienced in recent seasons.

“Our kids have really put a lot of time and effort to reaching out to the students, reaching out to the city," Norvell said this week. "We got a chance to meet a lot of the students moving into the Nevada Fit and to the Circus Circus. That was awesome to meet a lot of families and kids. We’re having family weekend when parents are going to come back and we invited them to come back. Last weekend was great. We barbecued for the student body and had a lot of the freshmen out there. I think we just want to let the students know how important they are to us, and they are important. We want the student section to be filled. We want those guys to run out on the field before the game.

"Our students section and our young fans are important for the energy in the stadium. I think every stadium is that way. The more that people get to know this team, they’ll feel more connected and want to be at the stadium. We have a great schedule. We’ll start off with Purdue, which I think is huge, and with all the day games that we have, I think that’s something that people wanted and we got several day games, 4 o’clock Weber (State) and then we go to 1 o’clock (against San Jose State) and the last game (UNLV) is a noon game. As the year goes along, the games get earlier and we should get a better turnout because of it.”

Prior to 2017, the Wolf Pack had at least 10,000 season-ticket holders every year for the previous decade. But that number fell below 10,000 in 2017 and has continued to dip. Dating to the school record of 12,783 season-ticket holders in 2013, the Wolf Pack has lost 4,906 season-ticket holders, a decrease of nearly 40 percent. In 2016, the Wolf Pack completed a $14 million renovation of Mackay Stadium that has helped increase revenue despite the season-ticket decrease.

Looking to boost season-ticket numbers this season, the Wolf Pack froze prices in the offseason. Nevada's players said playing in front of a packed home crowd would provide them with a boost.

“When the crowd is rallying, it really helps us out," senior linebacker Lucas Weber said. "I think some people don’t realize the effect the have on a football game being in the stands. They have a huge effect on the team. In order for us to get fans there, we have to win games. We understand that, too. It’s more fun for the fans when the home team is winning. I get that.”

The Wolf Pack expects in excess of 20,000 fans for Friday's game against Purdue, which marks just the second home game against a Big Ten school in program history. Nevada is 1-12 all-time when opening the season against a Power 5 opponent, so a win would be historic in nature.

“It will be a great opening game for us, a great challenge," Norvell said. "We’ll have to be ready in every way. I think it will be an entertaining game for our fans. It’s a great, exciting way to start the fall off. It’s football season. It’s time to go. We’re excited. We’re your football team, Reno and Northern Nevada, and we’re excited for you guys to come out and support us.”

WOLF PACK SEASON TICKETS

A look at the Nevada football team’s season-tickets sales over the last 10 seasons.

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: 8,580

2019: 7,877

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