Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Sizzling attendance at Hi Corbett increases ticket revenue by more than 400 percent

A crowd of 3,907 came out for a hot Saturday afternoon at the NCAA Super Regional. Photo by Anthony Gimino, TucsonCitizen.com

The Arizona Wildcats baseball team ranked 26th nationally in average home attendance, leading to increased ticket revenue of 407 percent over last season.

The average attendance of 2,628 fans for 40 dates at Hi Corbett — including the postseason — ranked second in the Pac-12 behind Arizona State (2,834), according to numbers collected by Tami Cutler of Wichita State athletic media relations.

LSU ranked first with an average of 10,736 fans per home game. Five of the top six teams in average attendance were from the SEC.

Arizona averaged 1,103 fans for 33 home dates in 2011, its final season at Kindall/Sancet Stadium on campus before moving to Hi Corbett. This season’s average attendance works out to be a 138 percent increase.

The Wildcats, who played host to an NCAA regional and Super Regional, open play at the College World Series against Florida State in Omaha on Friday.

“I mean this: I don’t believe we could have done what we’re doing unless we’re at Hi Corbett with that kind of crowd,” said coach Andy Lopez. “I can’t thank (athletic director) Greg Byrne and the administration enough for moving the team here.”

The leasing of Hi Corbett from the city — at $250,000 per year — paid dividends in team success and was covered by the increase in ticket revenue, thanks to increased attendance and a bump in ticket prices.

Byrne told Forbes that revenue from regular-season ticket sales increased from $69,000 last season to $350,000 this season. (Read more about concessions revenue in the Forbes article.)

But don’t expect baseball to become revenue-positive for the Wildcats anytime soon. Typically, only football and (sometimes) basketball turns a profit in athletic departments across the country.

Byrne told Forbes that the baseball program lost $816,000 last season and that he expects the net loss to be around $650,000 this season.

Byrne estimated last summer that it would cost about $250,000 to $300,000 to rebrand Hi Corbett for this season as a UA facility. According to Forbes, he expects the program’s net losses to average less than $500,000 in the next five years.

Arizona total attendance jumped from 36,412 last season to 105,121 this year.

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