Facing steadily declining attendance in men’s basketball, the Charlotte 49ers announced Friday that they are partnering with IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions.
The IMG ticket staff will have an office in Halton Arena, where it will work with the 49ers athletics department.
The 49ers’ average attendance last season was 5,190, the lowest in Halton’s 18-year history. Attendance has decreased each season except for one since the 2007-08 season, when Charlotte averaged 7,312 fans. With five weeks remaining until Charlotte’s home opener against Miami, season ticket sales are at 1,850 (last season’s total was 2,200).
After the 2013-14 season ended, Charlotte chancellor Phil Dubois acknowledged the attendance problem.
“Attendance waxes and wanes,” Dubois told the Observer in March. “You’ve got to win to get attendance. It’s a matter of winning games and generating excitement.”
The 49ers, who have not been to the NCAA tournament since 2005, were 17-14 last season, their third straight winning season under coach Alan Major. They are picked to finish third in Conference USA this season.
Changes have already been made to liven up the atmosphere in Halton, including moving student seating from behind the team benches to behind the baskets and more involvement from the pep band.
“That will set a new tone for us,” said John George, Charlotte’s assistant athletics director for ticket operations. “It will be a different flavor when you come into the arena.”
IMG College has handled Charlotte’s multimedia and sponsorship rights since 2011. The 49ers have also used IMG’s ticket division for their fledgling football program. Charlotte had an average attendance of 15,541 in 15,314-seat Richardson Stadium in its inaugural season of 2014. The 49ers have averaged 15,186 in their two home games this season.
“This partnership will help us continue to build on our strong tradition of basketball while developing our football presence across the region and nation,” 49ers athletics director Judy Rose said in a statement. “The experience they bring will be extremely beneficial to both current and future 49ers fans.”
Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday for second- and third-round NCAA tournament games next March at Time Warner Cable Arena (NCAA.com/MBBTickets). Charlotte is the host school for the games.