Katherine Cahalin/Staff Photographer
That is how many fans were in attendance at the Prudential Center on Sunday, Nov. 16 when the Seton Hall Pirates men’s basketball team hosted the Mercer Bears for their season opener. It was their largest turnout in a while.
“The 7,075 is one of the best home openers we’ve had in quite some time,” said Seton Hall Assistant Athletics Director of Communications Matt Sweeny.
To be exact, it was the team’s highest mark since 2007. Crowds like that will be expected throughout Seton Hall’s season, as ticket sales for the men’s team are better than ever.
According to Assistant Athletics Director of Ticket Operations Jim Semerad, non-student season ticket sales are up approximately 5 percent from this time last year, while student season tickets are up 20 percent. Students pay $100 for the package, while regular season tickets start at $483 and vary based on deals for alumni, parents, military personnel and faculty.
“All of the numbers are up from last year, which is a great sign,” Semerad said, even though the opener had already passed. “We’re still selling season tickets… Obviously the season started already and kids are still interested in buying tickets.”
While a lot of factors may be playing into the rising numbers, Semerad thinks it starts with the way Seton Hall ended its season in 2013-14, beating nationally ranked No. 3 Villanova at Madison Square Garden in the Big East Tournament before falling to Providence in the next round.
“I think we ended the season on a really high note,” he said. “We reached the semi-finals in the Big East Tournament for the first time since 2001. That certainly played a part into it.”
He also mentioned Seton Hall’s highly-touted recruiting class, which has created real expectations in South Orange and Newark for the first time since that 2001 season.
“Obviously the hype surrounding the freshman recruiting class helps; it’s not every day you have a McDonald’s All-American coming into your school,” he said, referring to Isaiah Whitehead. “I think that has certainly helped with the increase in ticket sales.”
Lastly, Semerad talked about different promotions that the school’s marketing team has put together. Perhaps the most eye-catching of those promotions is the reward student season ticket holders are given for loyalty that goes above and beyond the average fan.
“One thing that we’ve had the last couple of years that always seems to help is that our student season tickets cost $100, but if your ticket is used for all 14 home games we give your money back at the end of the year,” Semerad said. “It’s almost as if you’re getting a free ticket.”
He went on to say that 15 percent of student season ticket holders achieved “perfect attendance” last year and got their money back.
One student season ticket holder who did not reach that goal last year was Megan Gordon.
“I went on vacation over Christmas break,” Gordon said when explaining why she could not attend every home game.
Still, she felt that her experience last year was worth every penny, and so she re-upped again this season.
“Yea definitely,” she said about wanting the season tickets again. “I had them last year too and I felt it was worth it so I bought them again.”
Gordon was at Seton Hall’s packed opener, a 63-47 Pirates’ win.
“It was very exciting, especially because it was the home opener” she said. “There was a lot of fans there, a lot more than last year.”
Gordon said she hopes the crowd continues to grow.
“I hope to see a lot more non-students there, a lot of season ticket holders and alumni,” she said. “I think that would give the Prudential Center a good feel.”
Based on ticket sales and Semerad’s numbers, Gordon should be in luck.
Gary Phillips can be reached at email@example.com.