New method aims to spur Orange Bowl ticket sales
By Meena Rupani
Now settled into his position as vice president of ticket sales and operations for the Orange Bowl Committee, Dawson Hughes has laid out a two-pronged approach to increase ticket sales for the upcoming months before the big game Jan. 3.
This approach, Mr. Hughes says, "will be where first the new sales staff will be having meetings with various business leaders in the community getting the word out about the game, while at the same time the marketing team will be spreading the word through various media outlets. We want to work from the from the grassroots level up."
The committee hired Mr. Hughes in June with a primary goal to have the committee "work on increasing sales all year round." Previously, he worked in the ticket sales department for the Kansas City Royals and the San Diego Padres baseball teams.
"My first action in this new position was hiring more sales staff. We hired seven season staff members and two fulltime ones that have had previous sales experience," Mr. Hughes said.
In addition to adding to staff, ticket prices were adjusted due to the economic climate.
"Our upper-level seats are now $65 each. This is the cheapest they have been in a very long time."
Prior to the recession, 10 consecutive games sold out, including both the Orange Bowl and the BCS National Championship in 2009. However, the Jan. 5 football game this year drew only 67,000 to Sun Life Stadium, which has a capacity of about 75,000.
Committee CEO Eric Poms had said in June "these new strategies have been developed to adapt to the economic downturn and the competitive marketplace that Miami is."
"Ticket packages have not only become more affordable for the football season but also for the basketball season and the coach lunches we hold," Mr. Hughes said.
The requirement to have each Orange Bowl Committee member provide two corporate contacts has helped spread the word about the game, according to Mr. Hughes.
"This requirement has been ramped up, especially in the past months since football season has started up."
Once members provide the committee with contacts, they will receive ticket packages personally delivered by one of the committee members, according to Tony Argiz, committee president and managing partner of accounting firm MBAF.
The committee has also held two networking events in recent weeks in order to "network with sponsors and also have them hear what the Orange Bowl Committee is all about," Mr. Argiz said.
The Orange Bowl Committee, created in 1935 as a not-for-profit volunteer organization that currently has 343 members and 125 actives ones, supports more than 15,000 youth football players in eight South Florida counties and funds scholarships and community projects.
The committee, according to Mr. Hughes, is continuing to work with rbb Public Relations and the Silverman Media Group to work on making the ticket packages look more creative and attractive.
"In December, once the teams are announced, it's pretty much a sprint for us from there," he said.
"There are no plans to hire more staff at the moment," Mr. Hughes said. "This was our transitional year. If it makes sense to add to the team, then we will consider it."
The committee wants to essentially preserve a community tradition with these ticket sales strategies, according to Mr. Poms.
"The big picture is this," Mr. Poms said in June. "We need to protect our history and traditions. We are approaching our 77th game and we are the second-oldest game there is."
"I believe that this year there will be a different outcome," Mr. Hughes said. "The business climate has much improved from the previous year and we have been tracking ticket sales more closely than we have in the past."