Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017


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U Football Revenue Tops Last Year

 

The Gophers have already surpassed last year’s total for football ticket revenue, according to numbers provided Sports Headliners by the University of Minnesota Athletic Department.

A department spokesman reported via email “about $10.75 million in football ticket revenue” has been generated, approximately $3,000 more than the total for the entire seven-game home schedule in 2016. The $10.75 million figure was provided late last month after Minnesota’s first two home games this season. The total includes public and student season ticket revenues and single game sales for all seven home games in 2017.

It’s anticipated that no additional 2017 public season tickets will be sold because three home games have already been played. However, the student season ticket sales campaign started much later than the public sale this year and, according to athletic department spokesman Jake Ricker, more student sales are likely. Also, many more individual game tickets and resulting revenue will be generated in the days and weeks ahead.

None of the Gophers remaining games are sellouts, but capacity crowds are a possibility for the November 11 and 25 games with Nebraska and Wisconsin. Those rivalries are considered premium priced games and they attract thousands of Cornhuskers and Badgers ticket buyers. For the Nebraska game, prices start at $90 and go up to $235, while the range for Wisconsin is $80 to $210.

“We anticipate hundreds of thousands of additional dollars in football ticket revenue …over (last) year by the time this season concludes,” Ricker wrote in an email.

The Gophers had only one premium game (Iowa) last season. While the Nebraska and Wisconsin tickets are pricey, the Gophers did some price reduction from 2016 on early season home games this year, according to Ricker. He also said the cost for season tickets remained the same in 2017 as last year, with the athletic department nixing a long-planned increase in scholarship seating donations.

Although it’s apparent there is curiosity and interest among ticket buyers in new coach P.J. Fleck, the Gophers have been several thousand tickets short of selling out any of their first three games in TCF Bank Stadium.

The athletic department sold 21,985 public season tickets in 2017, 566 fewer than last year.  Ricker said a larger base of season tickets partially carried over from 2015 into 2016 than was in place this year. However, the U sold 1,713 new public season tickets this year, compared with 776 in 2016. The total of new accounts is 688 versus 285 in 2016.

Student ticket sales for this year are at 5,964, down about 1,000 from 2016, but a few hundred more tickets could be sold.

Worth Noting

If the Twins dismiss Paul Molitor as manager—or ask him to make changes with his staff—Brad Mills might be a name to watch in Minnesota. The 60-year-old former Astros manager coaches for the Indians where he is highly regarded. He presumably is friends with Derek Falvey, the Twins baseball boss who was with the Cleveland organization until last fall.

After Tuesday night’s wild card loss to the Yankees, the Twins finished 0-4 in games this year at Yankee Stadium. For the season the Twins were 2-5 against New York and Minnesota also had losing records against other superior teams including the Astros, Indians and Red Sox.

Despite having four of five starters in their 30s, the Lynx brought the energy to win last night’s Game Five against the Sparks, earning the Minnesota franchise its fourth WNBA title in seven years. The 12-woman roster has five players with 11 years or more of professional experience. The titles are rewarding for a core group of players who have been together for years, and owner Glen Taylor whose other pro team, the Timberwolves, haven’t made the playoffs since 2004.

The NBA general managers’ survey was announced yesterday on NBA.com. The Timberwolves and Karl-Anthony Towns did well but a year ago the same experts predicted Minnesota’s Kris Dunn would be the league’s Rookie of the Year. This year 69 percent of the votes forecast the Wolves to be the NBA’s most improved team, while Towns was voted the player GMs most want if starting a franchise. He was also voted the league’s best center and most likely to have a breakout season.

Twelve former players from the WCHA are on NHL opening night rosters this fall including Minnesota State Mankato alums and forwards David Backes and Tyler Pitlick, who are with the Bruins and Stars respectively.

The Wild open tonight against the Red Wings in their new home, Little Caesars Arena, where Stubhub.com was listing tickets last night for over $990 each.

Case Keenum said this morning he doesn’t know if he or Sam Bradford will start at quarterback for the Vikings in Monday night’s game against the Bears.

Purdue has been promoting tickets starting at $10 for Saturday’s home game with the Gophers.

Conor Rhoda

Gophers quarterback Conor Rhoda has rushed only nine times in four games for his 3-1 team. He mostly hands the ball to a running back on option plays and that’s with the approval of Fleck who is concerned that Rhoda stay healthy, playing a position where Minnesota has no one in reserve who has starting experience. Fleck said the mission is to “keep him (Rhoda) healthy, continue to get him to distribute the ball and continue to develop the other quarterbacks behind him.”

Those quarterbacks on the depth chart include true freshman Tanner Morgan who enrolled at Minnesota after the first of the year. A finalist for the prep Mr. Football Award in Kentucky as a senior last year, he passed for over 10,000 career yards in high school. “I think he’s getting a lot better,” Fleck said about the young quarterback who he wants to redshirt this season.

Rhoda has also been impressed with Morgan. “I’ve been around a lot of guys who have come in here as 17 year olds, leaving high school early and (I) know how difficult that can be. He’s grown so much just as a person since he got here, but so much as a player as well.

“I really think the sky’s the limit for him. He’s an incredibly intelligent person off the field and on the field. As long as he keeps working the way he’s working, who knows what he’s going to be able to do.”

The Gophers were among the national leaders in targeting penalties last fall, but not in 2017. Through four games Minnesota is the least overall penalized team in the Big Ten with 16 infractions. “I think we’re a very disciplined football team,” Fleck said.

The Gophers are about 14 months out from the basketball game they committed to playing in U.S. Bank Stadium in December of 2018. An announcement about their opponent has been anticipated for awhile and that could be indicative of not being able to secure a high profile team.

Free advice to the Gophers: schedule an annual nonconference game with either Iowa State or Northern Iowa. The Cyclones likely would have to be home-and-home but perhaps the Panthers would be willing to play at Williams Arena two out of every three years.

The 1982 Minnesota State University Moorhead cross country team, led by All-Americans Randy Goblirsch of Redwood Falls and Keith Haverland from Farmington, will be inducted into the school’s sports Hall of Fame on Friday. The Dragons won conference and district titles, before going on to finish 7th at the national meet. Gophers senior associate athletics director Marc Ryan was also a member of the team but missed the 1982 season because of mononucleosis.

Ryan was saddened this week over the death of music legend Tom Petty, who he saw perform at 25 concerts, in 12 different venues across six states. Most recently Ryan watched Petty in late June at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

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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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