How will USF's home attendance change?
USF hasn't provided any updates on the progress of season ticket sales, but other schools are reporting significant dropoffs, as can be expected given the state of the economy these days.
Among the many line items in the operating budget released by USF athletics on Tuesday was one for "RJS Ticket Surcharges" -- USF pays a percentage of any ticket sold at home games to the Tampa Sports Authority. Last year, USF budgeted $400,000 for such surcharges, and this coming year, that figure drops to $340,000.
Given that ticket prices haven't radically changed, aside from a few cheaper season-ticket options, you could take that as USF anticipating a 15 percent drop in home attendance. USF does have a marquee game against Miami in November, a potential sellout if both teams are playing well, and another top draw in West Virginia, a game that sold out Raymond James in 2007. But the Bulls also have two early home games against I-AA opponents Wofford and Charleston Southern, which aren't likely to command large crowds.
USF may be less vulnerable to the economic conditions, as the Bulls were found to have the least expensive college football experience in the BCS in an offseason study by the Oregonian. New ads tout season tickets as cheap as $88 for six games.
Florida State's season ticket sales are down around 11 percent from last year, and it was reported last week that Louisville is about 6,000 tickets behind last year's season-ticket total, or about 18 percent. Asked if the Bulls' budget reflected an anticipation of a 15 percent drop, USF executive associate athletic director Bill McGillis said Tuesday night that he has a more encouraging read on attendance.
"I'm cautiously optimistic we can get in the neighborhood of 90 percent (of last year)," he said.
After getting the nation's largest average attendance increase in 2008, averaging an announced 53,170 fans, the Bulls dropped back to 49,690 last season, a 6.5 percent drop. If the Bulls could drop just 10 percent this season, they'd be averaging 44,721 fans. As is the case anywhere, the biggest factor in USF's success in the stands will be the Bulls' success -- or lackthereof -- on the field.
-- Two incoming USF freshmen have been named as the Gatorade Athlete of the Year for Florida in their respective sports -- Hasani Sinclair of Delray Beach in boys soccer, and Neamen Wise of Lake Brantley in boys track and field.