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August 14, 2012
Florida State's 2012 home schedule flaunts two FCS pushovers. There are four straight home dates in steamy September to start the fall. The Seminoles also lost a must-see out of conference game against West Virginia, the No. 11 team in the USA Today preseason poll.
But Florida State's season ticket base hasn't wavered.
The school has eclipsed 39,000 full season tickets sold as of Tuesday, a number on pace with the sales from 2011 when FSU entered with a top five preseason ranking and its schedule flaunted one of the most highly anticipated games at 82,300-seat Doak Campbell Stadium in years, a September tilt with No. 1 Oklahoma.
"We feel pretty good about where we're at," said Ben Zierden, FSU assistant athletics director for ticket sales and operations.
After a long run of season ticket sellouts through FSU's dynasty years in the 1990s, season ticket sales plummeted near the end of the 2000's thanks to a struggling football team and a rough economy. Florida State bottomed out around 30,000 season tickets in 2008 before recovering to 35,000 season tickets in 2010 to just below 40,000 sold last season.
Sitting just above 39,000 with more than two weeks until the season opener, Zierden said that the numbers look promising to at least match the 2011 mark, a notable accomplishment given the stark contrast in home schedules.
"Having some excitement with (FSU coach) Jimbo (Fisher) coming in and having some success we've steadily worked our way back up," Zierden said. "And we hope that with the 40,000, that we're never going to fall backwards any further, that we're always worst-case scenario going to stay flat and we feel good about that."
Florida State was expected to be ranked in the top 10 nationally once again in 2012, but when West Virginia pulled out of its trip to Tallahassee - an opponent replaced with FCS foe Savannah State - and the schedule gave the Seminoles four straight home games in September, Zierden said there was some concern about matching the season ticket mark from 2011. Florida State has two signature home games this fall - Clemson on Sept. 22 and archrival Florida on Nov. 24 - but the five others (Murray State, Savannah State, Wake Forest, Duke, Boston College) bring little sales appeal.
"The previous year we had a pretty big increase and a lot of that was the hype around the Oklahoma game, preseason top five, all that good stuff," Zierden said. "This season, we were a little bit concerned about the schedule when we lost West Virginia and four home games in September is tough just given our demographics so we were a little bit concerned about what that would mean as far as ticket sales, but I think we have done a pretty good job of being proactive."
According to Zierden, roughly 70 percent of Florida State's season ticket base resides outside the Tallahassee area, making consecutive home games a tough sell to an FSU alumni base that has firm roots in the state's major metropolitan areas like Orlando, Tampa and Miami.
Even still, Zierden believes the current promise of the program and more high expectations buoys the support from FSU fans who live several hours from Tallahassee.
"While there are some challenges from a scheduling standpoint for our fans, I think our fans also understand that the schedule works out pretty good from a competitive standpoint for our football team," Zierden said. "I think people see that and realize that as far as the hype around the team and the chances that we've got to have a really successful season. I think people are buying into that and they see the direction the program is going."
FSU's ticket office is also getting creative with its ticket packages. Outside of its standard $321 season ticket, it is offering a discounted $199 season ticket to all seven games that is located in the South end zone. The FSU Ticket Office announced Tuesday that there are fewer than 100 of those season tickets remaining.
FSU is also offering two different "three-packs" for $157 apiece. The first includes Clemson and any two other home games excluding Florida and is available to the general public. The other three-pack includes Florida, Duke and Wake Forest but that pack is only available to FSU Boosters and current season ticket holders.
Florida State opens the year against Murray State at 6 p.m. ET on Sept. 1.
- Editor's Note: For more information on FSU season tickets, visit www.Seminoles.com.
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