Some tickets for UNLV football this fall will include unlimited concession items in an initiative university officials believe is unique in college athletics. They also say it’s a tremendous value.
The three-game “Eat All You Can Plan,” which will provide boundless hot dogs, popcorn, nachos and soda, costs $79. While all-you-can-eat promotions are common at Major League Baseball stadiums, it is not prominent on a college football Saturday.
The games are Sept. 8 against UTEP; Nov. 3 against Fresno State; Nov. 24 in the Fremont Cannon rivalry game against UNR.
“It’s a great way for your family to enjoy first-class entertainment and create a memory for an affordable price,” said Desiree Reed-Francois, UNLV’s athletic director.
When Reed-Francois arrived last summer at UNLV, she was determined to get feedback from supporters on how to operate the department. She even lived in the dorms for a brief period to get suggestions from students.
The university also sent out surveys to season ticket holders and conducted community meetings in their search for suggestions. One of the common themes was making an outing to a UNLV event more affordable.
“We wanted to be responsive to our fans,” Reed-Francois said.
Officials recognized they had to get aggressive in attracting more people to Sam Boyd Stadium, where the Rebels will play another two seasons before moving to the $2 billion Las Vegas Stadium near the Strip. The Rebels this fall are projected to compete for a winning record in coach Tony Sanchez’s fourth season, which puts a priority on bringing fans to create a home-field advantage.
Last season, UNLV reported 8,996 football season ticket holders; the average attendance for home games was 17,449. Capacity for football games at Sam Boyd Stadium is listed at 35,801.
“If we are playing good football and we are offering a good time, people will come out,” said Mike Newcomb, executive director of Thomas & Mack Center, Cox Pavilion, and Sam Boyd Stadium.
Department officials are working at two speeds in their planning — for next two seasons and toward 2020 when they move into the new stadium. Season ticket holders at Sam Boyd will get priority access at the new stadium, but officials are still determining many specifics for 2020, including the price point.
But, Reed-Francois stresses, they aren’t “mailing in the next two years until we get to the new stadium.” The 105 UNLV football players, among others, deserve better.
“We know what our community expects,” she said. “They value excellence. They value winning.”
Reed-Francois came to UNLV from Virginia Tech, a football school where Saturdays in the fall are king. She’s heard the narrative that UNLV can’t have the same feel — she’s just not buying it. That’s why the department is getting creative in its efforts to attract fans to Sam Boyd.
“I’m told all of the time that this isn’t a football town,” she said. “We’ll flip that (opinion). There’s an opportunity for football in this town.”
Season ticket holders have the option to add unlimited concessions at all six games for just $30 for the season, or $5 a game. Season tickets begin at $99.
Groups of 20 or more fans can buy unlimited concession single tickets for any game starting at $16.
“(Sanchez) wants to create a vibrant, electric atmosphere,” Reed-Francois said.