I thought it might be fun at the end of the college basketball regular season to poll a few college marketing administrators to discover some of the unique regional variables that weigh in on decisions about their basketball schedule. Many institutions have to either leverage their opportunities or steer clear of outside influences in order to maximize their attendance numbers. Here is what I learned and I hope you enjoy the insight.
Montana State: No early or late afternoon games on a Saturday. So many people are on the slopes that the Bobcats attendance would be wiped out if they tried to compete with the downhill skiers.
College of Charleston: Because of the historic downtown scene and the top-shelf culinary options in the low country, the Cougars find that weekend afternoon games allow fans the opportunity to enjoy the Charleston nightlife afterward.
Boise State: The market responds better to 7p starts, as fans treat that hour as a time to spend a night out with family. By comparison, the folks at Gonzaga have deemed 6p to work better in that community.
Charlotte: The 49’ers have to be nimble as some of their weekend games compete with the Carolina Panthers. With a traditional 1p start time for the east coast in the NFL teams, Charlotte attempts to avoid the conflict happening just down the road.
Ouachita Baptist and Henderson State: These two Division II schools are both members of the Great American Conference and they are both located in Arkadelphia, Arkansas and they are located just 1.5 miles from one another (if even that). Hard to think that you can do much to avoid a home game being hosted by the other school in a town of 11,000 people. For these 11,000 residents, there are nearly 50 opportunities to attend a home game at both schools throughout the men’s and women’s season.
New Mexico: Due to the large fan base for women’s basketball, the Lobos try to avoid scheduling a start time that is the same for a men’s game and a women’s game when either is on the road. If the schedule shakes out to where both teams are at home on the same day, New Mexico schedules a split doubleheader, clearing The Pit after the first game to set for the second. Having 5,000 women’s basketball season ticket holders almost requires resetting the room.
Penn State: Each year, students host a fundraiser entitled “THON.” Nothing dominates the Nittany landscape in February like this annual event. The athletic department works with the conference office to negate any conflict possible with this giant community event.
Louisiana Monroe: Given their small community, ULM is proactive with local organizations in the area to understand their plans so that the Warhawks can negate as many conflicts as possible. This DI school actually plans their basketball schedule around other events in Monroe/West Monroe.
Wyoming: Many fans travel from outposts as far as six hours away for a basketball game. Many games are scheduled in the afternoon to give folks an opportunity to drive in the daylight. Nighttime in Wyoming can be extremely dark. Toss in a few feet of snow and Cowboy fans are appreciative of an early tip time.
Georgetown: Sharing a venue with both an NBA and NHL franchise poses challenges. But at the same time, there is great opportunity to brand a start time. While many pro teams like to have an evening start time, Georgetown is able to be consistent with afternoon tips, coveting the 1p slot. Fans are geared to think about the Hoyas having an afternoon tip if the Wizards or Capitals are at home later that day.
Pepperdine: When the beach is right outside your window, the drop in student attendance is quite noticeable on a sunny day. Palm Beach Atlantic can claim the same as you could hit the waterway with a golf ball with the strike of an 8-iron from the arena’s entrance.
Worth noting: Variables in scheduling are never limited to one sport. At Arizona State, there is a conscience decision to consider kicking off football after sun down at Sun Devil Stadium in August and September. Average temperature is reaches 101 early in the gridiron schedule.