Orange Bowl game plan tackles fallen ticket sales
By Meena Rupani
Orange bowl officials have laid a multi-tiered strategy to increase declining ticket sales to the football classic, including adding a new vice president to do just that.
The Orange Bowl Committee hired Dawson Hughes just over a week ago to fill the vice president of ticket sales and operations post.
"Excited to be a part of such a prestigious event," Mr. Hughes said his first priority is to hire more full-time and part-time ticket office employees.
"The committee has never worked on increasing sales year-round," he said. "We need a team to get started on this project."
Mr. Hughes realizes he'll battle challenges.
"We're still going up against a tough economy, and in Miami there are many entertainment options besides the games to choose from," he said.
"Mr. Hughes has an experienced background behind him," said Orange Bowl Committee CEO Eric Poms. "He has worked in the ticket sales department for the Kansas City Royals and the San Diego Padres."
Committee President Tony Argiz said he has faith in Mr. Hughes.
"He helped out the Kansas City Royals, which is a team that is not in demand in the baseball market. I believe he can create new strategies to help us out," Mr. Argiz said.
In addition to restructuring the ticket sales department, the committee is trying to "engage membership and utilize the members' corporate contacts," Mr. Poms said.
"A new membership requirement is to have each member provide us with two contacts in the business community. Then we will prepare ticket packages and visit each employer," said Mr. Argiz, managing partner of accounting firm MBAF.
The Orange Bowl Committee, created in 1935 as a not-for-profit volunteer organization that currently has 343 members, supports more than 15,000 youth football players in eight South Florida counties and funds scholarships and community projects.
The committee has also hired RBB public relations and the Silverman media group to work on making the ticket packages more creative.
Mr. Poms is looking as well to adjust ticket prices to make attending more affordable for families.
"These new strategies have been developed to adapt to the economic downturn and the competitive marketplace that Miami is," Mr. Poms said.
The Jan 5 football game this year only drew only 67,000 to Sun Life Stadium, which has a capacity of about 75,000.
Prior to the recession, 10 consecutive games sold out, including both the Orange Bowl and BCS National Championship in 2009.
Both Mr. Poms and Mr. Argiz want to preserve a community tradition.
"The big picture is this: we need to protect our history and traditions. We are approaching our 77th game and we are the second-oldest game there is," Mr. Poms said.
Mr. Argiz echoed the sentiment.
"We have 76 years of history behind us. We need to make more connections with the South Florida community to increase ticket sales."
Mr. Hughes said he has his eyes set on one goal.
"Being a non-profit organization, the goal here is to sell as many tickets as possible to generate enough revenue so that we can give back to the community."