In the first 52 seasons of basketball at UD Arena, the University of Dayton hit almost every attendance goal anyone could imagine. The program has ranked in the top 35 in the nation in average attendance every season. It sold out 14 games two years ago and welcomed the 10 millionth fan into the arena in three seasons ago.
If the ticket office had its own bucket list, selling out the entire season would have been on it, and UD announced Thursday it has done that for the 2021-22 season. Every ticket for all 17 Dayton Flyers men’s basketball home games has been sold.
“It means a lot,” Dayton forward DaRon Holmes II second. “It just shows how much the community and the students care here, and I think that’s going to help fuel us for the games coming up.”
“I’ve been ready to play in front of 13,000,” guard Elijah Weaver said, “so now that I know it’s going to be sold out and it’s for sure going to be 13,000, it’s exciting.”
The announcement came five days before the regular-season opener at 7 p.m. Tuesday against Illinois-Chicago.
“I’ve been here 10 years,” said Adam Tschuor, a senior associate athletics director who oversees the ticket office, “but if you look back at the records even before that, we’ve always had 300- or 400-level seats left to move. We’ve certainly had plenty of sellouts, but it was always a task game by game to move those (tickets) and get to that point. There’s an adage in ticketing that the last 500 seats are always the hardest to sell.”
The season-ticket base accounts for 11,000-12,000 of the tickets sold for each game. Students get a percentage of tickets each game, as do the visiting teams. As the start of this season approach, Tschuor realized Dayton was running out of single-game tickets to sell. The ticket office didn’t make a special push to sell out the season for the first time. Tschuor said it happened naturally.
Dayton sold out the season despite having only one marquee non-conference opponent on the home schedule (Virginia Tech on Dec. 12) and only two Atlantic 10 Conference home games on Saturdays. Why did it happen now?
“Obviously, you have to put the caveat in there that we have amazing fans,” Tschuor said, “but it’s never happened before. You certainly have to point to the 2019-20 season and team. That was the last time that a true number of fans have been able to come to a game. Certainly, it was tough to not be able to see that season to fruition. But we always had an inkling that there would be a payoff for us in terms of fan interest and wanting to lock up season tickets, and that’s exactly what happened. You throw in the first pandemic in 100 years. You add that to the mix. Before the Cedarville game, I think the number was 604 days since that (George Washington) game to end the 19-20 season. People were just excited to get back in the building and and to see the Flyers play in person again. You throw in those two factors, and then probably the last one I’d probably throw in there, too, is just the general excitement around this team. It’s a young team, but it’s an exceptionally athletic and talented team. So put all that in the hopper, and this is what came out.”
The news means Dayton will set a school record with 17 sellouts this season. The sellout streak will reach 28 games by the end of the season.
“It’s an honor really,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “I think we’ve got some of the best fans in the country, and to get the type of support before the season starts, I think it’s indicative of how much our fans miss us. We missed having them in the building.”
With 17 sellouts, Dayton will average 13,407 fans per game. That will break the UD Arena record of 13,364 set during the 2019-20 season. The previous record of 13,018 was set in the 2016-17 season. That broke the mark of 12,982 that had stood since the arena’s first season in 1969-70.
“Our basketball program stands on the shoulders of our fans, past and present, who have unconditionally supported our players and coaches over decades,” UD Vice-President and Director of Athletics Neil Sullivan said in a press release. “Our fans and the entire community have proven to be a distinctive, fundamental and enduring part of our program. We are thankful for their extraordinary support and partnership. This is a relationship, not a transaction.”
In the last season before the pandemic, 2019-20, Dayton ranked 23rd in attendance in Division I, averaging 13,364 fans at 17 home games. The previous season, Dayton ranked 22nd by averaging 12,957 fans per game.
Not counting last season, when attendance was restricted to fewer than 300 fans during the pandemic, Dayton has ranked in the top 30 in attendance in 23 straight seasons and in the top 25 for six straight seasons.
Even though the season is sold out, there are still ways to buy tickets being resold by fans on Ticketmaster.com. UD also is telling fans to check with the ticket office two days prior to games because sometimes 400-level tickets become available if the visiting team or students don’t buy their allotted tickets.
Also, some premium seat options remain. More information can be found on DaytonFlyers.com or by contacting Dan Preuett at (937) 229-5112.
Dayton discussed holding some tickets to protect single-game ticket sales, Tschuor said.
“There are two schools of thought in event management,” he said, “and one is if you’ve got that market to sell every potential seat that you have as a season ticket you do that. There’s another school of thought that you cap your season-ticket number at a certain point to be able to protect a single-game or a group ticket sales market.”
Instead of holding 300-500 tickets, UD decided the resale market was robust enough it didn’t need to do that.
“Even with moving every general or regular seat for the season,” Tschuor said, “there’s still plenty of opportunities for those other groups to be able to come to games at reasonable prices. So instead of putting on that cap, we just let the market fall how the market fell. That got us to where we’re at.”
Illinois-Chicago at Dayton, 7 p.m., Spectrum News 1, ESPN+, 1290, 95.7
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