January 4, 2012
Four local area business are selling WKU men's basketball tickets for one dollar each.
Think about that for a moment.
You can buy a general admission ticket to watch the Hilltoppers in person on Thursday and/or Saturday for a buck.
A program with the history and tradition of WKU, just four years removed from the Sweet 16, is practically giving away general admission tickets.
My initial response when I heard that was "Wow!" It screams desperation. It is obvious attendance figures are on the decline as the Hilltoppers' continue to spiral downward.
But let's not kid ourselves. Diddle Arena wasn't exactly selling out even when the Hilltoppers were playing at a high level. When WKU made the Sweet 16 in 2008, Diddle Arena sold out ONCE, the white-out game versus South Alabama. I have been covering the Hilltoppers for six-plus years. I can recall two sellout crowds (South Alabama in '08 and Louisville last season). And we are talking about a venue that holds roughly 7,000 people.
The question becomes: why are more fans staying away now than before? Is it because the team is losing? Are they boycotting the program hoping for a coaching change? Or are fans just preoccupied with another college program up in Lexington? For many of you the last one probably stings, but it's the truth. I say it's a little of all three.
There is a lot of apathy when it comes to WKU athletics and its fans. I can recall just a few weeks ago when fans complained about the football team not receiving a bowl invite. Part of the reason the Tops didn't was because not enough fans were coming to home games.
My point? Yes, the Hilltoppers are down...very down. And selling tickets for one dollar is not a good sign at all. But fans weren't exactly busting down the doors when the Hilltoppers were winning either.
Here is the dilemma. Clearly the university recognizes there is a problem. Selling one dollar tickets is nothing more than a temporary fix. It may not even be a fix at all if people still refuse to show up. How long is WKU willing to ride this out?