The California Golden Bears begin their year playing outside of Memorial Stadium across the Bay in Candlestick Park, home of the San Francisco 49ers. They'll kick things off against the Fresno St. Bulldogs next Saturday.
Despite the nearby venue and numerous alumni scattered throughout the Bay Area though, Cal fans are being fast outpaced by Fresno State fans in selling their allotment of the tickets. Jonathan Okanes of the Contra Costa Times reports.
According to the latest figures, Fresno State's ticket office has sold 12,000 tickets whereas Cal has sold only 7,500. It's harder to keep tabs on tickets sold through other outlets such as StubHub, but Bulldogs fans seem to be scooping up tickets at a much brisker rate than Cal enthusiasts.
"In general, I think everyone is having a little more of a challenge selling tickets than we had hoped," Cal associate athletic director Matt Terwilliger said. "We are really hoping that volume picks up. We typically see a surge toward the end."
The Cal athletic department might be forced into the somewhat humbling position of buying the remaining tickets to try and ensure they receive their share of guaranteed revenue from the game. Fresno has already snared their revenue for playing the game. It's a low point for the AD, who've tried to wring every dollar they can out of the Cal football fanbase without heeding the cries and criticism of the people who buy their tickets.
There are multiple factors that appear to be holding up Cal's ability to sell out the event. For one, it's at the Stick, which isn't one of the friendliest places to get to. The negotiated ticket prices are extremely expensive, and parking prices are pretty exorbitant to match. Compare that to the price of playing football at Memorial Stadium, and it's appallingly bad.
Second, it's not a marquee matchup--even though Fresno State will be pumped up to play the Bears, Cal is going to struggle enticing their fans to come out and play a middling WAC school the way they came out for a big-time big-conference opponent like Tennessee, Colorado or Michigan State. Cal is also coming off their worst season in a decade, so fan morale is at an all-time low.
Third, the ticket package for Cal's home games at AT&T Park is already very expensive. Some of that is understandable to atone for the smaller stadium, but there are way more seats at AT&T that require donation than at Memorial (around 57% of seats at AT&T compared to 27% of seats at Memorial). Apparently the Bears seemed willing to price out the mid-level fan to ensure that the best seats be bought at excessive prices, meaning that many fans who aren't quite as well off as the big-time donors are stuck. You can only imagine how apathetic they'd be to paying for games at Candlestick.
Finally, because it's a neutral site game, many Cal alumni who would've gotten plum seating at a home game are forced not only to buy tickets, but won't be able to pick their own seating. Thus some of the more prominent donors and big-time Cal followers are forced to sit in certain spots, and that's leading to mass desertion.
For more on Cal football, check out the California Golden Blogs.