Over the Top

May 5, 2010

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By Jon Cooper

Members of the Aspire Group, never have to ask for whom the bell tolls.

They not only know for whom it tolls but what it means – it means a sale.

While it’s a sound they hear constantly in their Alexander Memorial Coliseum office, the ring that was heard Tuesday night at around 6:15 was extra special. That particular tone made every member of the group feel like a million bucks and for good reason. It marked the new tickets sale that put the group over the $1 millions-raised mark.

“We’re real happy about that,” said Georgia Tech Associate Athletic Director Wayne Hogan. “Ten months, that’s all new revenue on new ticket sales. That is a real plus for us.”

The Aspire Group has been a huge plus as far as increasing ticket sales for Georgia Tech football and men’s basketball. The group is the brainchild of Bernie Mullin, former President of Atlanta Spirit, which owns the Atlanta Hawks, Atlanta Thrashers and Philips Arena, and his business partner Bill Duffy. It has a proven track record in fund-raising throughout professional sports, but is somewhat unique in college circles.

Hogan said that Tech representatives were optimistic when they hired the group, but didn’t expect to hit the $1 million mark in less than a year. Tech football saw an increase of nearly 4,095 tickets sold per date and was 12th among Division I FBS schools in increased attendance.

“We really didn’t know what to expect but I can’t say that it’s a total surprise,” he said. “We were all optimistic that it was the right thing to do. They’ve seen this model work in the NBA, they’ve seen it work in Major League Baseball and in other places they’ve been. It just had not really yet translated into a college environment. They were right and their projections were fairly accurate, although I think we did a little better than what we even projected and I think it will just continue to grow.”

As far as who made the call that put Tech sales over the top, Hogan stated that the group preferred to stick with their signature ‘one-for-all, all-for-one’ approach.

“I don’t think they wanted to single any one person out,” he said. “They’ve got about 12 people over there. The general manager of the property, the guy that runs the room on a day-to-day basis is Bill Fagan and he’s done a great job. I know they were just ecstatic to reach that milestone.”

Hogan said that there has been discussion about “some special surprise” to reward the customer that put them over the top.

He added that he expects, the passing of the $1 million plateau will be a real morale boost as the group heads into what is considered prime sales time for selling tickets for football season.

“It’s exciting times,” said Hogan, who added with a laugh, “As I told them, ‘Congratulations. Now let’s get $2 million.'”

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