May 032005
Authors: Jon Pilsner

If the Leffler Agency and the CSU athletic department have their way, the vacant seats at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium will have people occupying them in the future.

Looking to improve ticket sales to CSU athletic events, the CSU athletic department announced Tuesday a partnership with Baltimore and Tampa Bay-based Leffler Agency, Inc.

"As we looked at what our plans were for 2005 and beyond, one thing we wanted to do was increase marketing and promotion," said CSU athletic director Mark Driscoll.

Bob Leffler, the agency's president, said in a news release that the goal was to start a new fan base that goes beyond alumni and traditional fan bases.

"We believe that CSU Rams football and college sports overall have a strong appeal that can be brought to the greater Fort Collins and Northern Colorado area," Leffler said in the release. "In short, we sell the superlative experience of Division-I NCAA football to people who may be choosing between a CSU event and the movies."

The deal is broken into three renewable years, according to the release. It will include a variety of television, radio, print and other forms of marketing said associate athletic director Gary Ozzello. Included will be outdoor marketing and other means to reach potential customers.

The amount CSU is paying the Leffler Agency was unavailable Tuesday afternoon.

The ad campaign will also make use of the agency's "TicketBlast" e-mail system that sends mass e-mails to people on lists collected by the athletic department. People wishing to have their names put on the list can submit their e-mail addresses to the CSU Athletic Marketing Office.

Ozzello said the goal of increasing ticket sales was a primary focus of the direction the athletic department is trying to move.

"Mark Driscoll and I sat down this past fall and agreed one of the best places to increase revenue is to sell more tickets," Ozzello said. "We talked to other departments nationwide and interviewed four different firms."

The Leffler Agency's track record was what led the athletic department to choose it, Ozzello said.

This past season, about 10,000 football season tickets were sold, Ozzello said. Next season, the athletic department has set a goal of selling about 12,000 season tickets. The eventual objective for the future is to fill the entire west end of Hughes Stadium, Ozzello said.

The Leffler Agency has previously done work for college and professional football teams across the nation, including the U.S. Naval Academy, Akron, Fresno State and Virginia. The agency's recent "New Dog in the Show" helped Connecticut grow its football season ticket base from 6,000 to 28,000 in two years.

Driscoll said that the idea of hiring the Leffler Agency was to help make the CSU brand more recognizable to the public so that when people are looking to spend money on entertainment they look toward CSU athletics.

"It's a piece of a long-term plan to make an image. We've got wonderful kids and great coaches, then we promote it with the tools and the marketing," Driscoll said.

This follows a series of plans announced by the CSU athletic department to help boost football ticket sales. Included are two mini-plans that include tickets to three of the five home games and family discounts. Other promotions, such as "Youth dollar day" and "Team rates" for local football teams, are also planned.

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