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Courtesy of the Houston Chronicle:
The longest active streak on the University of Houston campus resides in a small office adjacent to TDECU Stadium.
You have to go back to Jan. 25 for the last time the UH ticket sales team did not have at least 100 new season-ticket purchases in a single day, a product of the football program’s success in coach Tom Herman’s first season and even bigger expectations for next season.
“We know at some point it’s going to slow down and the streak is going to end,” said Brooke Smoley, UH’s associate athletic director for ticket sales and operations/chief revenue officer.
Not Monday, when the three-member sales staff “went to overtime,” as athletic director Hunter Yurachek joked on social media, to keep alive the streak.
Not Tuesday, when Smoley kept the office open “just a little longer” to reach the magic number.
Just before closing Wednesday, Smoley sent out another update via Twitter: “No OT this time.”
Thank you, Cougars
The interest in UH football is at an all-time high, and why not? UH was one of the biggest surprises in college football last season, finishing 13-1, winning the American Athletic Conference title, beating Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and earning a No. 8 ranking that’s the school’s highest at season’s end in 36 years.
“It’s our success,” Yurachek said. “Our alums are excited about the program. The H-Town Takeover (the program’s catchphrase) is really taking over.”
An earlier than usual start to the season-ticket sales campaign translated into a record January and even bigger February with more than 2,000 new sales for the seven-game home package, which includes a marquee season opener against Oklahoma in the Advocare Texas Kickoff at NRG Stadium.
Although complete numbers were not immediately available, UH has sold at least 2,500 during the 23-day streak. The school had only two such days of 100 new sales a year ago.
At the current pace, UH is projecting at least 18,000 paid season-ticket packages for the 2016 season, a nearly 23 percent increase from a year ago. UH sold 15,022 season tickets in 2014 and had a slight dip with 14,650 in 2015.
Yurachek said the school “is really pushing” to reach 20,000 season tickets, which would represent half capacity of 40,000-seat TDECU Stadium.
Riding the coattails
UH began a push for 2016 season tickets in November, when the football team began 10-0, and it took off again with the sending out of renewals shorty after the Cougars won the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31. In past years, the school normally would begin its annual season ticket drive around April and May.
“This is the earliest sales season we’ve had,” Yurachek said.
Back at the ticket office, Smoley said it has become “sort of a stock market-type” watch each day. A white board tracks the number of sales. On some days, the phone has been ringing nonstop. They had more than 400 new sales in one day. On another, they reached the mark by lunchtime. On Feb. 16 came the “Daily Double” – 100 new and 100 renewals.
“We’d get off the phone, write the new number on the board and move on to the next sale,” Smoley said.
Business hours are officially 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
“We’ve stayed a little late a few nights,” Smoley said with a wide smile.
Yurachek commemorated Day 20 with a red-and-white icing cake with the message: “Congratulations #20.”
In the past, Yurachek has mentioned the importance of the university tapping into the 200,000 alumni who live within an hour of the football stadium. While the early interest in new sales has been surprising, Smoley said an important gauge will be the percentage of renewals of existing season-ticket holders.
Jeramiah Dickey, UH’s deputy athletic director, said the school will need a renewal rate of 90 percent to reach the goal of 18,000. Most of the lower bowl, as of late Wednesday, is sold out except for a few pockets of seats in five sections.
The streak is no threat to DiMaggio, Ripken or UCLA basketball, but university officials admit the interest in the upcoming season has been exciting.
“It’s really a neat streak,” Yurachek said. “I know our ticket sales staff is getting calls from their colleagues around the country asking what they are doing to do this.”