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Price Increase Coming for U Football?

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February 26, 2014

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Gophers notes:

It doesn’t require an advanced degree in marketing to foresee a likely increase in 2014 Gophers football ticket prices.

A Gophers spokesman didn’t confirm an increase will soon be announced but said, “We haven’t raised ticket prices since TCF (Bank Stadium) opened in 2009.  But I don’t know right now if we’re going to be raising them this year.”

That’s five seasons with not even inflationary increases on ticket prices, and obviously operating costs are rising including for coaches’ salaries.  Head football coach Jerry Kill’s new contract boosts his annual pay by $900,000 and the athletic department is committed to keeping the compensation for assistant coaches competitive with the better paying programs in the Big Ten Conference.

The Gophers had losing seasons from 2009-2012 but last fall Minnesota was 8-5 overall, 4-4 in Big Ten games.  The eight wins were the most by the program since 2003 and the league record was the best since 2005.

The team’s on-field results and the stability of prices for five seasons makes a price increase in 2014 more acceptable to ticket buyers than in the past.  Because season ticket renewals must be sent out within three weeks the Athletic Department will have to decide soon about pricing, assuming a decision hasn’t already been made.

Kill continues to be impressed with the leadership and commitment to excellence of University of Minnesota president Eric Kaler.  Kill said Kaler “doesn’t want to be in the middle of the road on anything” and he trusts him.

Kill has also been impressed with the leadership of quarterback Mitch Leidner in off-season workouts.  Spring practice begins next Tuesday with the Spring Game scheduled April 12 at TCF Bank Stadium.

The biggest challenge Kill may have in replacing linebackers coach Bill Miller is finding another staffer as adept at recruiting in the state of Florida.  Miller has resigned to join the Florida State staff.

Epilepsy occurrences prevented Kill from driving last fall and earlier this winter but he said on Monday he’s behind the wheel again.

Athletic director Norwood Teague said a feasibility study is being done regarding how to fundraise the $190 million project to upgrade facilities.  A fundraising committee headed by former Gophers hockey player Lou Nanne has been formed and results of the study will bring focus to the project.

The Gophers basketball team, surprise 95-89 winners last night over Iowa, are 7-9 now in the Big Ten.  If Minnesota can win one of its two remaining Big Ten games the Gophers can equal last year’s 8-10 league record, even though that was a more talented team.

The Hawkeyes have eight Iowans on their roster.  The Gophers have one Minnesota native, sophomore power forward Joey King.

King has replaced Oto Osenieks as a starter in recent games.  Osenieks, who has an injured knee, didn’t play last night.  His totals in the previous three games have been 6, 10 and seven minutes.

Reserve redshirt freshman forward Charles Buggs, who had scored only five points all season, had 13 last night.  Gophers coach Richard Pitino said Buggs has the “best potential” of anyone on the team.

Gophers junior guard and leading scorer Andre Hollins has been dating Gophers women’s junior guard and leading scorer Rachel Banham for 10 months.  “She watches all my games.  I watch all hers,” Hollins said last night, acknowledging they give each other advice.

Will the two marry?  “Who knows,” Hollins answered.

Worth Noting 

Rookie swingman Shabazz Muhammad, who was the Timberwolves key player in a road win over the Suns last night scoring a career high 20 points, was in high school two years ago and considered by many observers to be the best prep in the country.  If he continues to play at a high level the Wolves could become a playoff team this season, and probably for sure next year.

Kennys Vargas, the Twins minor league prospect who has impressed with his power in spring training, hit 19 home runs in 125 games last year for Fort   Myers.  Vargas, a first baseman, had an impressive on-base plus slugging percentage of .813.

Vargas, 6-foot-5, has struggled with his weight and is now at 275.  “I am not saying 275 isn’t okay,” Twins president Dave St. Peter told Sports Headliners.  “He’s a big man.  He can carry that.  We don’t want him to be more than that.”

St. Peter said about 6,000 tickets are still available for the team’s home opener with the Athletics on April 7.  By opening day St. Peter expects the club to have the “equivalent” of more than 17,000 full season tickets, down approximately 2,000 from last year’s total.

The Twins have sold about 100,000 tickets for their 16 home spring training games in Fort Myers.  St. Peter expects seven or eight games to sell out and total attendance to reach 120,000 or more, placing the Twins in the “upper echelon” among MLB clubs for total home spring attendance.

The Big Ten has named Edina native Matt Hopfner Freshman of the Week in baseball.  Last week the Northwestern outfielder had four multi-hit games and a .500 on-base percentage.

KARE 11 executives have to be delighted with viewership during the Winter Olympics that ended on Sunday.  The station had the highest viewing of any American TV market for the Olympics, according to a KARE news release.  KARE’s average household rating over 17 days of prime time Olympic telecasts was a 19.1 rating with a 36 share, besting second place Salt Lake City.

The station’s late news following Olympics programming was also highest in the country by a wide margin averaging an 8.5 rating/27 share for adults 25-54.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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