Nevada needs to fix its fan base
Dear University of Nevada athletics,
Why do you hate your football fans?
You tease us by revamping an old stadium last year by adding some envious features. Chair-back seating, high-definition scoreboard and a modified club and plaza level highlighted the upgrades before the 2016 season but they weren’t enough to keep the fans in their seats with a mediocre football team.
Ticket prices increased this year to help erase the debt incurred from the upgrades but let’s be honest. You’re not going to sell out the zonie section when general admission is $25. And that’s not the premium price. For $25, you can take a family of five to the movie theaters on Tuesday. For $25, you can purchase three tickets to the Reno Aces. It’s a cold fact when it comes to Nevada sports, however, that watching FCS-level football is not worth that price of admission.
But to make it worse, you decide to schedule games that conflict with various events throughout the region.
Granted, Saturdays are meant for college football but don’t forget about youth football. College football begins with the youth programs, like SYFL and Pop Warner, so it doesn’t make any sense why you would want to create conflict. Youth football will trump college football in this region until a quality product is playing at Mackay Stadium.
Thank you, though, for aiming low so the fall wouldn’t be so hard.
After a promising outing against Northwestern, games against Toledo and Idaho State of the FCS were supposed to build confidence in the team and the fan base. Instead, the Wolf Pack choked, leaving us all stunned how a Division I team could lose to an Idaho team not named Boise State. But it got worse with blowout losses at Washington State and Fresno State before Hawaii’s curse on the mainland held true once again, giving Nevada its first win of the year.
The last two games have been exciting but how could the defense be worse than previous years. We didn’t realize it was possible, yet, you’ve defied expectations once again, leaving us breathless.
But why would you schedule a game on Friday night? And on TV?
I understand that the TV selection is out of your control but a line needs to be drawn. Never schedule a game on Friday when high school football is still in action. You want proof? How many fans showed up two weeks ago? Less than 20,000 in a region that has close to half a million in population.
And why would you schedule homecoming of all games on a Friday? Never schedule homecoming in the evening and on a weekday unless you want your alumni mad, which you successfully accomplish.
While a bowl game is out of the question this year (was it really going to happen anyway?), the season must go on, unfortunately. Nevada goes to Boise State this weekend where it’s won only twice, both in the pre-Bronco glory years. And then Nevada comes home on Veterans Day to face San Jose State at 1 p.m. Why? Because of TV rights? We get it but when you’re trying to rebuild a fan base as fickle as Northern Nevadans tend to be, it’s extremely difficult to sell out Mackay when fans can just stay home and watch the game instead of wasting $25.
Fans will remain loyal to the Pack, as they have through the good and the bad (just look at everyone wearing silver and blue) but these fans need to come first. There’s no reason Mackay shouldn’t be sold out given the population in this region and that fans need to spare a few hours for six Saturdays in the year.
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org