UD gauges ‘comfort level’ of season-ticket holders on attending games next season

Fans in the Red Scare section cheer during a game against Omaha on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, at UD Arena. Among the students is Emily Noll, who's in the center wearing the flight attendant uniform.
Fans in the Red Scare section cheer during a game against Omaha on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, at UD Arena. Among the students is Emily Noll, who's in the center wearing the flight attendant uniform.

Credit: David Jablonski - Staff Writer

Credit: David Jablonski - Staff Writer

In January 2016, the University of Dayton surveyed fans about what they wanted to see in an upgraded UD Arena. The Flyer Faithful responded in droves.

It’s been similar this week about a different topic: the 2020-21 season and what that might look like during the coronavirus pandemic. Dayton is preparing as if the season will start on time and feature a full schedule, but it’s too early to tell if that will happen or if fans will be able to attend games.

UD sent an email to Dayton Flyers season-ticket holders asking them to participate in a 13-question online survey about “various scenarios related to the potential of reduced capacity and a different in-arena experience at the UD Arena this season.”

Athletic Director Neil Sullivan said UD wanted to survey fans because “the customer is at the core of everything we do. We’ve always aimed to provide more than just a transactional service to our fans and really just be trusted partners and work together, and we’ve done that for decades. We felt that we needed to get ahead of it and just engage with our fans to understand their perceptions and their potential behavior. We have months to adjust. It’s early, but we think together we can find a feasible path forward for whatever the conditions could be. It’s a unique puzzle to say the least, and there certainly aren’t a finite number of solutions.”

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Among the questions in the survey were these:

1. “Assume for a moment that public heath guidelines have reduced seating capacity to 25% of current capacity in the Arena and that all public health guidance on capacity, face coverings, and other operations are being followed. How likely are you to purchase season tickets?”

2. “How important would each of the following be in making you more likely to purchase season tickets?”

• “Evidence that an effective vaccine will be available by January 2021.”

• “Evidence that effective COVID treatment options are available.”

• “Evidence that COVID Infection rates have declined substantially.”

• “Evidence that guidance on face coverings and other measures will be strictly enforced at all home games.”

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Fans were also asked to rank the importance of different public health measures, such as hand sanitizer being easily available in the arena and seats being deep cleaned before and after each game.

Another question dealt with ticket distribution in an arena with 50 percent capacity. Would fans rather be able to buy their normal number of tickets but for half the games or buy fewer tickets for all the games or a blended option?

There was also a question about what affect the lounges being closed — if they are closed — would have on fans’ desire to purchase season tickets.

The main goal of the survey, Sullivan said, was to gauge people’s comfort level in coming to games and get their thoughts on splitting up tickets if that needs to be done.

“It just helps us to understand their perspective,” Sullivan said, “and helps us build it into any potential decision.”

Along with the survey came more information for season-ticket holders:

• Billing for season tickets and parking passes has been delayed as UD seeks further clarity on the season.

• In the email, UD told fans it will “follow all public health guidance on capacity and face coverings, and all other operations. We do not know exactly what those will be at this time.”

• UD announced it is moving to mobile ticketing for this coming season and for future seasons.

• Fans were also told if they are members of the arena seating program and they made their seating contribution, they can opt out of 2020-21 season tickets while maintaining “the opportunity to renew their arena seating program contribution and seats for the 2021-22 season.”