Sports

Tuesday, Aug 26 2014 11:20 AM

The Roadrunner Connection: ‘We’re all ‘runners’ is changing the game

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Corey Costelloe

When CSUB Athletics unveiled our latest “We’re All ‘Runners” marketing campaign over the summer, it came with more than a catchy phrase, colorful logos and a social media hashtag — it came with a promise to also increase fan-affordability and overall experience.

It’s a promise that I am personally taking to heart and dedicated to improving in 2014. It’s not that the experience was bad before, it just needed some work; it needed that shot in the arm that would not only encourage fans to show up for various home games, but make them want to come back, win or lose on the field or courts.

That component was unveiled last week, a more-affordable ticket pricing structure coupled with the return of complimentary on-campus parking on game days. Both were issues in the last few years that honestly, we messed up, and I have no problem saying that.

While entering the ranks of NCAA Division I athletics and the Western Athletic Conference we had a lot of consultants and outside companies sniffing around and telling us what was in our best interest. Come to find out that best interest had more of a benefit to their pockets than those of our fans. Prices fluctuated, ticket promotions and discounts were minimized and, honestly, we could see the fans weren’t happy.

But in order to truly make change you not only have to address an issue, but change your thinking on the subject matter as well. That’s exactly how “We’re All ‘Runners” was born. It’s an attitude that everyone needs to feel welcome and appreciated at our events, and we show that appreciation by changing the way people access our product and the experience, as well.

So, yes, we’ve knocked a few dollars off the game tickets this season. Most important, in my eyes, is the $5 kid’s ticket. It alloways anyone under the age of 18 to sit in any seat in our venues! Meaning, for example, if mom and dad buy a pair of reserved chair back seats at a men’s basketball game at the reduced price of $15, the kids can sit right next to them for $5 each. So a family of four can go see a game and sit in great seats for just $40. That’s a big reduction from a year ago where those same four seats would have cost $80.

And the parking issue: Last year, for the first time ever, fans were charged $3 to park on campus, which never goes over well. University police are required to get something for parking on campus for lot maintenance, officer support, etc. In years past the athletics department and the police agreed on a cost and it was paid by CSUB Athletics. Last year that cost just wasn’t in the budget, so the cost came from the fans. Once again, we’ve budgeted for that cost and are taking it back upon us to pay, not the fans.

My thinking, which I’ve been vocal about to many, is simple: reduced tickets and complimentary parking will get more fans to our games, meaning we’ll cover whatever costs are associated. We have several really excited big time home games this season for sports like men’s soccer, men’s basketball, volleyball and baseball.

When the lots are full of happy fans, money no longer becomes an issue.

There’s more to come from “We’re All ‘Runners;” these are just a few of the early benefits to fans. Another part of this campaign is engaging the outlying communities like Tehachapi. After all, our point is that as the only NCAA Division I program within 100-miles — “We’re All ‘Runners.”

Part of my focus in marketing the program is to figure out enough of a draw to get folks like you from my hometown to make the 40 minute drive to see one of our games. I would hope some of these early benefits might get the ball rolling, but I also know that the experience needs to warrant the commitment to make the drive. That work will be ongoing.

I also want to hear from fans and fans from Tehachapi specifically. If you’re heading down this season for a game, whatever the sport may be, let me know; send me an email about your experience (all my contact information is on our website GoRunners.com). Let me know if something wasn’t right in your minds. I’ll see that it gets corrected. We need to be on the same page — more importantly you need to have a good time.

After all; We’re All ‘Runners.

COREY COSTELLOE, a Tehachapi High graduate, is Assistant Athletics Director for Communications for California State University, Bakersfield.

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