The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Past season ticket holders focus of new campaign

Expect a call in the next week or two if you have ever owned season tickets for SMU football at Ford Stadium.

The athletic department wants you back – now.

And it’s not just former Ford Stadium season ticket holders, either. The department will begin calling every living alumni in the Dallas area, asking for them to come back to Hilltop and support SMU Athletics.

The phone calls are part of a comprehensive plan being rolled out in the newly established ticket sales office for SMU Athletics. Shawn McGee left his job as head of ticket sales at FC Dallas in April to accept the position of associate athletic director of sales.

He is in charge of filling seats in Ford Stadium, and the best place to start is with the people who have previously supported the program.

McGee and his team will ask past season ticket holders to come back and come out this year.

“If you want Phil to go to a bowl game, this is the year to go support him,” he said. “It’s easy to get on the bandwagon next year. Now is the time to get on.”

McGee and his staff of six will make the calls over a three to four week period in July. Then they will begin the long task of calling every alumnus in the area. He expects the process to take between eight and 10 months. The goal of the alumni calls is to have a name people can reach out to when they have SMU sports-related questions.

“We’re trying to put a face on this department,” McGee said.

McGee will talk about the changes occurring in the department and the experience of coming out to an SMU game. He will sell that there is no better place for a traditional college sports experience than the Hilltop because of the pre-game events, in-game presentation and the game itself.

Season ticket sales are ahead of where they were at this point last year, but McGee declined to give hard numbers. The goal this year is to sell 1,000 more season tickets than last year. McGee believes that will be done.

But McGee knows that he can do better.

“That’s not where we need or want to be,” he said. He said the complete effects of having a full-time staff would be evident at this point next year.

He said previously the department only sold tickets through, the Ford Stadium box office and through the occasional direct mail piece. There has not been a full-time staff proactively going into the community to sell the SMU experience.

That will change when his new staff begins to focus on three groups: youth sports, the corporate market and the affinity or non-profit market.

The corporate market has the most opportunities for SMU, according to McGee.

He calls it the untapped market, and said almost every business in Dallas has an SMU connection that has not been taken advantage of. Two staffers will work to develop accounts with area businesses full-time.

While youth sports groups have been targeted previously by SMU, McGee said more could be done. He is creating a program that would ask area youth football leagues to purchase a low-cost game ticket for every member their league. In return, they would have the opportunity for clinics with SMU coaches, play games at Ford Stadium or participate during pre-game festivities at a SMU game.

Non-profits like church groups or YMCAs would be the beneficiaries of a program tentatively titled, “Caring for Our Community.” It would have local businesses purchase tickets and donate them to a group of their choice. The group would get to attend a game and the business would receive some form of sponsorship or promotion from it. Non-profits would also be eligible for discounted tickets and the ability to designate certain games. One example of this is FCA Night, which has annually brought in around 1,000 young people to Ford Stadium.

In addition to the SMU base in Dallas, McGee wants to focus on alumni of the large state schools in the area. He wants to sell them on the college experience at SMU and make the Hilltop a second home for them.

“Can’t make it to Austin or Lubbock for the weekend? Come catch a good game with us instead,” McGee said. “We want to be Dallas’ team.”

McGee knows that the task he faces is not an easy one. But he credits the support he has received so far while at SMU.

“The school is saying make the investment, the fans are ready for change,” he said. “If there’s ever at time to be at the Hilltop it’s now.”

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