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News Clips 07/03/2013
Return of Marching 100 helps football ticket sales
Source: Tallahassee Democrat, 07/02/13
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By St. Clair Murraine
FAMU football has gotten its 12th man back with the announcement last week that the Marching 100 band has been reinstated.
But while head football coach Earl Holmes said he is glad to have the return of the band because it should serves as a motivator for his players, FAMU athletic department could stand to benefit even more financially. Athletic administrators have said repeatedly that the band is the brand that sells.
“The plus for everybody is the band is a talent. A part of the university program that everybody enjoys,” said interim athletic director Michael Smith.
“It’s another marketing tool, another recruiting tool for the university. We welcome the band’s return and all the opportunities that it brings because it’s a part of the university’s fabric and its culture and it’s success, not just in athletics.
Just how vital the band is to FAMU athletic has been evident at the box office. Ticket sales took a pump up early last week when word of the band’s reinstatement began to circulate.
Season ticket sales have averaged about 100 per day since the official announcement. And, as of Tuesday sales have almost doubled what they were this time last year – currently at 1,352 compared to 752 a year ago – according to athletic marketing director Angie Suggs.
Suggs added that season tickets that are not renewed by July 22 will be put in single-ticket batch when they go on sale July 29. FAMU’s average home-game attendance of 14,077 was 16th best in all of FCS football during the 2012 season.
Last season, the absence of the Marching 100 had an obvious affect on every major game that the Rattlers played. Attendance at both the Atlanta Classic and the Florida Classic in Orlando were down dramatically last season while the band was suspended, following the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion after the final game of the 2011 season.
The affect of the band is so profound that FAMU wasn’t invited to participate in this year’s Atlanta Classic, which instead will feature North Carolina A&T against South Carolina State. Both teams are conference opponents of the Rattlers and their meeting will be a regularly scheduled conference game.
FAMU has historically played a non-conference game in the Classic. The Rattlers had played in the annual fund-raiser game for the 100 Black Men of Atlanta consecutively for the past 14 seasons. At the time of the announcement reinstating the band, it wasn’t clear whether it will be back for the Rattlers’ season opener against Mississippi Valley State in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge. However, it’s widely speculated that the band will appear at the Oct. 19 homecoming game.
While the band will be an entertainment treat for fans, Holmes said its presence could have an effect on how spirited his Rattlers play.
“The band is there to motivate; to cheer the guys on and root them on,” he said. “That’s the whole thing about music. It just motivates the guys to push harder.”
While the band was on suspension, FAMU athletic department hired R&B performers for the halftime show. The concept also was used at the Florida Classic, one of the largest games that the Rattlers play annually in Orlando.
“It brings excitement back,” Holmes said of the band’s return. “I think everything will come together.”