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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Zona Zoo hopes for consistency

    Michael Schwartz
    Michael Schwartz

    For four-year seniors, the only thing consistent about the Zona Zoo program has been its inconsistency.

    Right when students become comfortable with one plan, Zona Zoo tweaks the lottery here and sells basketball tickets on an individual-game basis there.

    After agreeing on a plan, to be signed officially today, that brings the total student ticket package from most to least expensive in the Pacific 10 Conference – with a $95 “”Red”” pass that includes admission to all games and a $60 “”Blue”” pass with the same amenities except men’s basketball tickets – both sides of the student ticket negotiations have hope that this will be the last major change.

    James Francis, the UA assistant athletic director for marketing and ticket sales, and Zona Zoo director David Roost and his Zona Zoo Crew have set the goal of trying to maintain as much consistency in the program as possible.

    “”Consistency is a huge thing,”” Roost said. “”Having a program that (students) can rely on is going to help make it successful.””

    That has not been the case in years past:

    ? Three years ago, the base Zona Zoo pass for football tickets cost $40, with a set of two basketball tickets awarded for half the season on a lottery basis that could be bought as a package for $6 per ticket.

    This means that some of the diehards could not get tickets if they did not win the lottery. Also, students who attended a game with a friend who owned the same package could sell the remaining tickets at a profit.

    ? Two years ago, the base pass remained at $40 and basketball tickets still were awarded on a lottery basis at a cost of $6 a pop, but the package provided one season ticket for the entire season instead of two for half the year.

    That allowed lottery winners to attend every game and prevented the problem of selling the second ticket at a profit, but students still complained.

    ? Last year, Zona Zoo revamped its system with a sizeable price increase. The base Zona Zoo pass increased to $60, with basketball tickets at $10 per game.

    The upside involved students being able to buy tickets on an individual-game basis, offering them a choice. Things did not go as planned when empty seats filled McKale Center for all but the North Carolina, UCLA and ASU games, an embarrassment to the students and the athletics department.

    That led to this year’s plan aimed at increasing basketball game attendance. Although the results won’t be known until November, Roost and Co. thought through a number of ideas and learned from other schools hoping to design something that would solve the annual changes with a plan that suits diehards, casual fans and everybody in between.

    “”That was the goal of it and we’re really trying to make it accessible and cater to the needs of everybody,”” Roost said. “”We’ve had plans in the past that only catered to certain groups’ needs.””

    For a plan best serving the entire student body, it seems fitting that it blossomed from what Roost called “”just a random student’s idea.””

    With the Zona Zoo Crew ready to send out a survey to students asking for input on the different plans, development director Nick Sproul stumbled across a Facebook group called “”PROPS – The People’s Revolution for a One-Price Sportspass.””

    Group creator Nicholas Ross wrote on the group’s information page that when Zona Zoo and thus football season tickets were created in 2003, attendance increased because students had already paid for tickets and thus went to the games.

    Using the same logic with basketball, he suggested that including hoops tickets in the package for an extra $30 would solve the basketball attendance problem.

    The students in charge of Zona Zoo policy agreed and brought the idea to Arizona Athletics, who loved it as well, Roost said. After computing the numbers the extra amount came to $35, but the structure of the idea remained intact.

    “”It’s kind of a cool way that’s how it got started,”” Roost said.

    By the people, for the people – now that sounds like a plan with staying power.

    – Michael Schwartz is a journalism senior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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