Sports director uses tablet giveaway to increase game attendance

Peter Holland Jr. // Assistant Sports Director

FIU’S Marketing and Promotion Department is doing whatever it takes to increase home attendants for the football games. Perhaps maybe too much than what’s already offered to Panther nation.

Just when you thought giving away free tuition last season was enough to fill out seats, the marketing team is now giving the first 500 people free food and free tablets for every home game they attend throughout the season.

Athletic Director Pete Garcia is kicking it to high gears to make sure all home attendants are living up to Division 1A standards.

By failing to do so, the National Collegiate Athletic Association would take away FIU’s division one privileges and the University could possibly be downgraded to the FCS subdivision.

According to Garcia, he wants to reward all the fans who come out and support their football team. What’s skeptical about this marketing tool is the reward part.

Is it a reward or a desperate bribe to get students to come to football games? Do students come to see a football game or just to get free luxurious items for showing up?

“There are probably other ways, but giveaways and halftime shows (along with a winning team) are the common ones,” said Tyler Porth, a senior majoring in sports management and recreation.

There’s two ironies to this: One, all football games are free from the get-go. Two, the Panthers were 5-1 at home last season and were one win shy from bowl eligibility. Yet, about 500 to 1500 people would show up, and that’s mostly from the opponent’s side.

The fans that do show up, however, how long do they planned to stay? You could just simply swipe your card, stay for the first half, then go home. It wouldn’t make a difference.

Gina Fernandez, an FIU student who had no interest in the football games, however, the biology major would attend for other reasons.

“I’m not into football, I’m just mostly hanging out with my friends and don’t really pay attention to what’s going on,” said Fernandez. “I do like how they give away free stuff.”

First game against Indiana, 16,089 were in attendance. A decent amount if you want count Indiana fan base and the freshman class.

Against Maryland, 17,084 people were at the FIU Stadium last Friday. The first 10,000 students who showed up received a free T-shirt.

Desperate times does call for desperate measures, right? To make money you have to spend money, right?

As much as Garcia is trying to make FIU a college atmosphere during sporting events, at the end of the day, winning games consistently will bring fans.

The men’s soccer team was at one point in the top 10 nationally. There was no marketing scheme to promote home games for the soccer team but a decent amount of people would still show up and sit in the wooden bleachers.

“I think with such a big freshman class, that a lot of people were there for the game … If anyone did come for the free stuff, then they were probably upperclassmen,” said Porth.

Pete’s Pick is a weekly column about FIU football and athletic news. To contact Peter, email him at peter.holland@fiusm.com.

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