Hahnville, Destrehan fans say high ticket prices keeping them at home
By Kyle Barnett - Dec 06, 2012
St. Charles Parish Public Schools officials said attendance at home football games has dropped since the late 90s.
Since that time ticket prices have increased by at least one-third.
Willie Wise, coordinator of physical plant services and athletics for St. Charles Parish Public Schools, said he can see a difference in attendance although records for ticket sales only go back to the 2011 season.
"I can tell you from my history when I was back in the 90s - the place was sold out," Wise said.
A St. Charles Parish Sheriffís Office deputy who has worked special detail at the parishís home games for over a decade said he has also noticed a decline.
"The whole stadium used to be completely full, but now you are seeing not even half of the seats are being filled," he said.
In response to a query made on The Herald-Guideís Facebook page, several people cited the high cost of tickets and parking as the top two reasons why they no longer attend games.
Jennifer Knight, who lives in St. Rose, said she goes to games alone to see her son in the marching band.
"The rest of the family stays home. Nine dollars a person is just too much to spend when you have four or five people going. A student priced ticket would also help – $9 for a 5-year-old is crazy," Knight wrote.
Montz resident Denise Naquin said her family does not attend games as often as they used to due to the high cost of attendance.
"I too think the prices for DHS football games are too high. I can easily spend $100 a football game - six tickets to get in and another $45 on concessions," she wrote. "We donít go very often anymore because of the prices, but I do have one going into DHS next year, so I guess I have to start saving just to make a football game?"
Lynda Waguespack, of Destrehan, said even though she has never had family play in the games she used to attend them, but not any longer.
"Even though I never had a child playing our family would still go for the fun of it, but (we) donít go anymore because itís just too expensive for tickets for a family," Waguespack wrote.
Other residents said despite the higher cost of tickets and problems cited by others they have continued to go.
Alvin Melancon, of Luling, said he will always remain loyal to his team.
"I still and will always support my Tigers. The six of us go and reserved seats are the best thing because we get there right at kickoff," Melancon wrote.
Wise said the drop over the years in ticket sales may be due to a number of factors, but he is not sure if there is one determining factor.
"As far as any one variable, I couldnít tell you. I couldnít pinpoint it and I didnít do any research in it," Wise said.
In 2011 and 2012, tickets at the gate cost $9 for all Destrehan games. Admission to Hahnville games is $8 for regular games and $9 for district games. Students who receive higher grades can receive free or reduced admission prices at both schools, but those who do not meet that criteria are charged the general admission price.
Wise suggests the economy could factor into why students and local residents are not attending home football games.
"Hard economic times could be the cause, but Iím not saying it is–I havenít done any research," Wise said. "If people donít have money typically they are going to have to decide where that money is going to go."
As far as instituting a program similar to the free and reduced lunch system for impoverished students, Wise said the school system has not looked into such a possibility.
"If you have money you can go," Wise said. "I think most kids that want to go pretty much can come up with that."
Despite anecdotal accounts of a large decrease in attendance since the late 1990s, school officials said they only keep ticket sales numbers for the past two years for comparison.
The 2012 ticket sales at Tiger Stadium in Hahnville ranged from 375 sold for the McDonogh 35 game in week five of the season to 1,565 sold for the Lutcher game in week three of the season.
For Destrehan, ticket sales were at a low of 573 versus John Ehret in week seven and at their highest at 2,360 versus Hahnville when the Wildcats were still competing for a playoff spot. In 2011, the Wildcats lowest ticket sales were also against John Ehret with 615 and their highest sales were at 1,351 for the Edna Karr game.
For both the 2011 and 2012 football seasons, the annual inter-parish rivalry between Hahnville and Destrehan had the highest draw for each stadium.
"Itís always a big game," Wise said. "Both of those teams could be 0-9 and it comes down to bragging rights, energy, adrenaline, pride, East Bank versus West Bank."
Hahnvilleís ticket sales over the last two years have shown a decline from an average of 997 per game in 2011 to 915 in 2012.
For Destrehan, there was an increase from 1,057 per game in 2011 to 1,284 in 2012. However, much of the increase in 2012 was due to the large turnout for the Hahnville versus Destrehan game.
Destrehanís average ticket sales per game outside of that game were only 1,015.
Ticket prices for the teams are set by negotiations between coaches whenever new districts are made. The last time this was done was in 2010. Wise said part of that discussion took into account a request by officials for a pay increase.
"What you had was the officials felt they were not getting paid enough so that had to be renegotiated," Wise said. "Thatís a contract so there is an increase in pay there and it gets tough."
Wise said another possible reason for the apparent downturn in ticket sales may be the teams the schools are playing.
"Some of these schools traditionally donít travel well. You are hoping they do. Lutcher usually travels well so you can see those numbers, but if you look at McDonogh 35 the numbers speak for themselves," Wise said. "You go to their games and they donít come out for their own home games and John Ehret is the same way I think."
Intimidation could also have a lot to do with it, according to Wise. He said a lot of times it is hard for Hahnville and Destrehan to schedule competitive games.
"In some instances it is hard to get teams to play you. Historically, both of our high schools have been very successful" Wise said. "People donít want to play people that are too successful because you are going to get in there and get beat and they donít want that. Believe me, they treat you like the plague at times."
Stevie Crovetto, director of public information for St. Charles Parish Public Schools, echoed Wise.
"I think a lot of it has to do with who you are playing," Crovetto said. "If you are playing a good team your sideís going to turn out if it is going to be a competitive match."
Crovetto said she thinks it is less likely a teamís supporters will travel for a game if they think their team will lose.
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