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View from the 'ville
Thursday, September 7, 2006

By Al Myatt

'Standing room only' at heart of Holland plan

ECU AD applies principles of Economics 101 in plotting Pirate Club and season ticket growth

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A number of strategies are at work in East Carolina's football season ticket sales in 2006.

Athletic Director Terry Holland wants to increase the demand for membership in the Pirate Club while keeping admission within reach for recent graduates.

Holland has sought to give Pirate fans games they want to see in his approach to football scheduling. He said the response this year has been good in terms of ticket sales.

"We've had a strong season ticket sale," he said. "What we've tried to do is do some new things, too, in terms of making it affordable but also limiting the lower level to Pirate Club members. We want to increase the value of being a Pirate Club member. We've done that and still made it very affordable for almost anyone to attend the games.

"We've got a young graduate program that allows East Carolina students who have graduated in the last three years to actually buy two tickets for fifty dollars apiece. It's a great deal and a great opportunity and we've seen a good response from that."

But Holland says until demand exceeds supply for ECU tickets, the urgency of purchasing a season package is diminished.

"The fact of our situation is that until we start to sell out some games, there's no reason for that borderline fan to buy season tickets," said the ECU AD. "If we can start to sell out some games — create that kind of interest in our individual games, then I think we'll see our season ticket sales move accordingly."

Overall, season ticket sales are approaching levels of several years ago when the Pirates were habitually making bowl trips.

"We should be in the 16,000, maybe even 17,000 range by the time it's all done," Holland said. "Again, we need to get up into that 20,000 level."

The appearance of West Virginia, currently ranked in a tie for fifth nationally in the USA Today coaches poll, at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Sept. 23 and Virginia's first visit to Greenville on Oct. 7 highlight the 2006 home schedule.

Memphis (first home game, Sept. 16), defending Conference USA champion Tulsa (Oct. 14), Southern Methodist (Oct. 21) and Marshall (Nov. 11) are the league teams the Pirates will face on their home turf.

The Pirates will play an unprecedented five straight home games over six Saturdays beginning with Memphis' visit.

The ECU ticket office numbers are (800) 342-5328 or 800 DIAL-ECU and, locally in Greenville, 328-2300.

Holland may well get the potential sellouts he seeks to fuel season ticket sales in 2007 when N.C. State and North Carolina are both scheduled to play at ECU. [View East Carolina's future schedules through 2013.]

The Wolfpack drew the largest crowd ever at Dowdy-Ficklen when they made their only previous appearance in 1999 as 50,092 were on hand for a 23-6 Pirates win.

UNC-Chapel Hill's only previous visit in 2003 resulted in a 28-17 Tar Heels victory before 44,040, the third largest crowd in stadium history.

Holland's take on USA hoops loss

As a former member of USA Basketball's Senior National Team Committee from 1992 to 1996 and current chair of USA Basketball's Collegiate Committee, Holland took more than casual interest in the recent performance of the USA team coached by his former ACC adversary, Mike Krzyzewski, in the recent World Championships in Japan.

Kryzewski's collection of NBA talent lost in the semifinals to Greece, which was beaten decisively by Spain in the final. Team USA wound up with the third place bronze medal with its closing win over Argentina.

Team USA must now go through qualifying competition for the Beijing Olympics as a result of its performance in Japan.

"The other teams play together," Holland noted. "We send all-star teams. It's hard to put a team together that can compete at that level of competition. I think we're on the right track. I think Jerry Colangelo (USA Basketball men's senior national team managing director) has a great game plan. Mike Krzyzewski is obviously the man to coach that team."

Despite coming home sans gold medals, Holland thinks the USA effort laid a foundation for the future.

"We made a lot of progress this year," he said. "That team played as a team — not quite as well maybe as Greece did in that particular game but Greece had a great shooting game. Still, we need to become as good as we can be that even when the other team has a great shooting game we're still able to find a way to win.

"We just weren't quite there yet but we made a lot of progress with this team. I'm proud of 'em. I think everybody who cares about this country can be proud of the way they conducted themselves, the way they played. That will eventually produce gold medals again."

Running challenge changes

East Carolina football coach Skip Holtz admitted he was disappointed that the Pirates netted only 75 yards on 25 rushes in a 28-23 season-opening loss at Navy. Holtz said that ECU will continue to evaluate Chris Johnson, Dominique Lindsay and Brandon Fractious to have the best running back in the game.

The challenge provided by UAB's defense this Saturday at 7 p.m. at Legion Field in Birmingham (WITN-TV 7) will be a sharp contrast to Navy's style.

"Totally different," Holtz said. "When you look at Navy, they weren't quite as big but they played a lot of the three down linemen front. They twisted. Their linebackers walked around. They tried to create a lot of confusion. Now when you've got three new guys up there (on ECU's offensive line) that have never played before, they were successful.

"Sometimes we were blocking ghosts because there were so many guys moving around. (Navy) was smaller, quick, athletic and they did a lot of moving. UAB is a lot different in that they are huge, they're big, they're physical. They're going to line up in a four down linemen front. You're going to know exactly where they are. At Navy, you never knew where they were going to line up."

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02/23/2007 12:30:40 AM


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