Cleveland, Ohio — The Cleveland State University Department of Athletics reported in its NCAA Membership Financial Report for the 2017 fiscal year a drop in ticket sales from 2016.
CSU reported a nearly 37 percent drop in ticket sales in 2017, which followed a 30 percent drop in 2016.
Of the four ticketed sports in 2017 reported in the financial report — men’s basketball, volleyball, wrestling and lacrosse — three showed a decrease in ticket sales, with the exception being lacrosse, which reported sales for its inaugural season in 2017.
CSU ceased the sales of tickets for men’s and women’s soccer, and did not report any ticket sales for swimming and diving.
The decision to stop ticketing soccer followed the move to eliminate the sale of tickets for women’s basketball in 2016.
The drop in sales is highlighted by a 40 percent decrease in men’s basketball ticket sales. The department made $60,133 less in 2017 off ticket sales for the sport.
Note that the ticket sales shown on this report are those of the final year of the Gary Waters coaching tenure.
While the blame for this drop in ticket sales can be placed on multiple factors, it is worth noting that the team played just 13 home games in 2017, which is two less than the year prior.
However, undoubtedly the largest factor is the decrease in attendance from 2016 to 2017. In 2016, men’s basketball home games drew a total of 28,669 people. In 2017, that number fell drastically to 18,195, a 36.5 percent decrease.
CSU student Andrew Bewley, who attends some CSU sporting events, said he believes more people would come to basketball games if they had something worth watching.
“We don’t have a superstar or a person [who] looks like they will be in the NBA,” Bewley said.
While men’s basketball showed the largest monetary drop, it was not the only program to report a decline.
Volleyball ticket sales dropped over 43 percent in 2017, but the hit was much less impactful due to the smaller-scale sales. In total, volleyball sales dropped $3,318 despite the team’s run of success over the past three seasons.
Wrestling dropped significantly, falling from $15,852 in sales in 2016 to just $563 in 2017. Wrestling saw a significant raise in 2016 (up from $467 in 2015) because it hosted the Ohio State University. CSU did not face an opponent at home of that caliber in 2015 or 2017, which explains the outlier in 2016.
The blow was dampened by the sales of lacrosse, which was CSU’s second most popular sport based on ticket sales in its first season. The program made $20,827 in ticket sales, which more than doubled the lost sales by both soccer teams and the swimming and diving teams.
The hiring of new men’s basketball Head Coach Dennis Felton could point to a potential turnaround in 2018, but CSU did not comment on the prospect. The rebound will need to be led by men’s basketball ticket sales, since it is far and away the university’s most popular sport based on draw.
Photo by Matthew Johns