Tulane uses fan survey to help improve Yulman Stadium experience

May 14, 2015

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The New Orleans Advocate 

By: Scott Kushner 

It wasn’t enough to open the doors to Yulman Stadium and call it a success.

Tulane’s football stadium, which recently hosted its first season on the school’s Uptown campus in 40 years, may have added an abundance of new season ticket holders to the Green Wave’s football program, but it also took on a lot of new responsibility. Rather than renting out the Mercedez-Benz Superdome and letting its staff handle most of the game-day operations, Tulane’s own staff was in charge of delivering a fan-pleasing experience.

Now, as the 2015 season approaches in the coming months and ticket promotions have begun in earnest, Tulane’s administration is focused on what can be improved (beyond the product on the field) to keep those customers returning for years to come.

To get an idea of where the top priorities stand, Tulane conducted a survey amongst its fans and found an array of areas it could improve the Yulman Stadium experience for its particular demographic market. It hired a subsidiary of its ticket representatives, the Aspire Group, who said the amount of respondents (who spent an average of 24 minutes on the survey) allows a 5 percent margin of error as representative of the whole fan base.

Of the season ticket holder demographics, Tulane discovered its customer averages 52 years old, five years younger than the national average for college football. It found 79 percent live in Louisiana, 61 percent in the New Orleans metro area with its strongest density coming from the Uptown, Lakeview and River Ridge neighborhoods.

Arguably most significant is that 35 percent of ticket holders said they weren’t affiliated with Tulane in any way beyond athletics, the highest percentage Aspire has seen with the exception of Army.

While those numbers may be helpful, executive associate athletic director Brandon MacNeill said the information they provided is what will make the biggest difference when Tulane opens its season in Yulman on Aug. 30 against Duke.

“We collected the data and people took 24 minutes to fill out a survey and we want to make sure they were heard,” MacNeill said. “This was great feedback and we didn’t want to just open the stadium, pat ourselves on the back and say we did a great job. We also didn’t want to take one or two complaints and run wild with them.

“Doing this survey and getting the response we did allows us to address the problems, know where we excel, and put it in its proper priority.”

The key areas of concern include balancing the sound from the stadium’s speakers, increasing the food offerings available in the concourse, boosting cell phone connectivity by installing a Distributed Antenna System and allotting more time for the marching band.

For television viewers, Tulane also said it will address the low, unorthodox camera angle employed by ESPN in broadcasting the game from the press-box adjacent camera wells. And fans in the stadium will stay more connected by additional ribbon boards which display out of town scores.

There have also been additional seating areas and on-campus parking spaces added to even out the seating distribution and give fans more options. Tulane is giving season-ticket holders the opportunity to guarantee their seats by renewing on May 30, that’s when new seating will start taking place.

“We know that 25 percent of our season tickets sold last year were first-time season ticket holders and that means we need to shift from getting new sales as our top priority into retention as our top priority,” MacNeill said.

“We need to make sure that base sticks with us and has a great experience in the stadium and we know what matters to them. We are hoping to collect more data this season on a week-to-week basis and make adjustments based on that feedback.”

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