Friday night lights; WVU ticket sales
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- All right gang, huddle up.
Or, rather, Huddle up.
Computer network ground has already been broken for what will be the state's premier high school football Web destination: the Gazette-Mail "Huddle."
Regular visitors to the Gazette's website - www.wvgazette.com - might have already seen the launch. Already the destination provides more prep football content than any other Mountain State site can generate.
But wait. There will be more.
On Friday nights, beginning next week, the site will spectacularly light up. The Charleston Gazette (yes, aka "America's Paper") will team with the Charleston Daily Mail to provide up-to-date scores, stories, videos from our photographers, videos from fans, statistics, schedules and weekly player recognition.
If you're an advertiser, I'd advise to get on board now. If you're a fan, check our website or go to www.wvhuddle.com. You're in for a treat.
And here's the kicker: The "Huddle" will only get better. We expect to add promotions. As we move along, fans will add video of their school's marching band, cheerleaders or team, which will only enhance the experience.
In Week One, the combined staffs are expected to cover 18 area teams in nine games. In subsequent weeks we'll cover that many or more. In addition, we'll keep our eyes on, and report on, other regional and statewide games. Every score will be available.
So click on your "Favorites" tab now and add the Gazette-Mail High School Huddle.
WVU assistant athletic director Matt Wells, who is in charge of marketing and sales, recently closed on a house. And with the Mountaineer football opener just over a week away, he's pretty much closed on the team's final season ticket sales number.
"We're at 33,200 or just a little more," Wells said on Thursday. "That will be close to our final number."
As you might expect, that number is down in light of low expectations.
"We're down in the neighborhood of 10 to 12 percent," Wells said. "Last year the number was about 37,500. That was similar to the numbers we posted in 2007 and 2008. Before that, we hit a plateau of around 34,000 in 2009, '10 and '11.
"We had a spike [last season] coming off the Orange Bowl, with our returning talent and moving to the Big 12. If you take any one of those, you'd have a spike. When all were combined, we had a perfect storm."
That storm, of course, fizzled late last season, so Wells and company have worked to entice more fans. They've put forth the Family Fun Zone in the south end of Puskar Stadium (section 132), which disallows alcohol and discourages foul language.
WVU has offered a $150 Family Day package for the Georgia State game, which includes four tickets and a $25 concession stand voucher. ("That's been really popular," Wells said.)
In addition, the school is offering a mini-package for the William & Mary, Texas and Iowa State games.
"That's the only way to get Texas tickets now," Wells said. "We still have single-game tickets available for the other games, but not Texas."
Aside from the Texas game, Wells said single tickets have been popular for Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Georgia State, the latter because of the Family Day package.
Also, WVU has enhanced its ticket buying experience. Instead of waiting in will-call lines, one can print a ticket from a home computer and have the ticket code scanned at the game. Also, one can pull up the email on a smart phone and have the code scanned at the game. In addition, one can select seats online much as one does airline seats.
It's a new world. Both at the Gazette and WVU.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.