The Arizona Wildcats are optimistic they can be successful in 2008.
Fans apparently are not so sure.
Season ticket sales for the 2008 football season are down 13.7 percent from total sales last year, according to figures obtained Tuesday by the Arizona Daily Star.
James Francis, the UA's assistant athletic director in charge of marketing and ticket sales, said about 22,200 season tickets have been sold to date. The figures do not include the Zona Zoo, which again is expected to sell out its allotment of 12,000 tickets.
Arizona averaged 52,160 fans per home game in 2007, the sixth-best mark in UA history. A little less than half — 25,737 — were season-ticket holders.
The reasons for the decline range from the obvious — Arizona has not made a bowl game since 1998 — to the struggling economy and the costs of fuel and travel.
"We're entertainment, and I think we're an economical option, but it's a tough time, and people have to make tough decisions," Francis said. "Some of it is that people maybe had six, eight tickets and are paring it back to four. Some people are dropping some of their tickets but not all of them. Part of that, we think, has to do with the economy."
And part of it has to do with winning.
Arizona State's football program is enjoying a ticket "bounce" after finishing 10-3 and earning a berth in the Holiday Bowl. Although official numbers will not be available until October, Sun Devils spokesman Mark Brand said the school is on pace to sell its most season tickets in 15 years. ASU could end up with 50,000 season-ticket holders this fall — with about 8,800 of them students.
Arizona, coming off a 5-7 season, is selling hope for a 2008 bowl game in an affordable package.
Season tickets for adults start at $92 for obstructed view, economy and family sections. Fans can sit in the Red Zone — risers behind the South end field goal post — for $100.
The UA again will offer discounts for children in the family section, faculty and staff, 'A' Club members and active-duty military.
For the first time, young alumni — those who graduated from the university in the last three years — can purchase season tickets at a 15 percent break.
"It's just something we've wanted to do, and the timing was right to roll it out this year," Francis said. "We're hoping it's going to be a big success."
Fans say the family section continues to be a good buy.
Amanda Romero-Thies picked up season tickets for herself, her partner and their two daughters on Monday. Four tickets in the family section, two adults and two children, were $300 — a little bit less than the priority cost attached to one 50-yard-line ticket.
"I love Coach Stoops," Romero-Thies said. "I love to watch him dance on the sidelines."
Green Valley residents Jack Immel, 69, and John Carlson, 71, bought tickets for the Cats' season opener against Idaho on Aug. 30. The price was about $28 apiece — "or about two social security checks," Immel cracked.
Francis said he is optimistic that buzz from training camp and early success could create more demand for tickets as the season goes on.
About 350 fans have purchased tickets in the last few weeks, Francis said, an indicator that fans are starting to plan for the season ahead.
"Right now, we're encouraged," Francis said.
By the numbers
Season tickets sold to date for 2008
Total season tickets sold for 2007
Cheapest adult season ticket