Jan. 29, 2014
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall's offensive and defensive lines paved the way to the Thundering Herd's 10-4 revival and Military Bowl victory in 2013.
Now, it's time to talk about another big line ... the one for 2014 football season tickets.
In a change from past policy and in concert with the reseating plan at Edwards Stadium, Marshall Athletics will use a season ticket intent form for prospective customers - both renewals and newcomers.
The ticket intent form will debut on the ticketing page of HerdZone.com starting Monday (Feb. 3). Those who are interested in ordering tickets may fill out this form and return it to the ticket office by mail or email. Customers who had season tickets during the 2013 campaign will receive a hardcopy of the intent form that starting the week of February 17.
Marshall will play six home dates at Edwards Stadium in 2014 - non-conference games against Ohio and Rhode Island, and four Conference USA dates to be announced. The Herd's 12-game schedule is expected to be announced soon, perhaps within the next week.
The Herd athletic department is moving to a calendar-year plan (Jan. 1-Dec. 31) for Big Green members and season ticket holders, rather than utilize the fiscal year plan (July 1-June 30) of the past. With that change comes the new ticket intent form.
"We're in the middle of the reseating process, we'll be sending out a season ticket intent form next month," said Aaron Goebbel, Marshall's associate athletic director for external affairs and ticketing operations. "It's a form fans should fill out for the amount of season tickets they'd like to purchase at the various price levels based on their annual giving.
"One thing we need to stress is when we send out this intent form, it's not just for Big Green members. Season ticket holders - those individuals have been very loyal to us for a very long time, we could not operate without their support and we can't thank them enough for their generosity. Members of the general public who have yet to be a season ticket holder can get involved in the process as well. Everyone who is looking to have a reserved seat in Joan C. Edwards Stadium for the entire 2014 season should fill out an intent form."
"It will just come down to later in the process for them. The reseating process is set up in rounds, and Big Green members will have the opportunity first when the seat selection process starts. They will have the priority before the general season ticket holder, which is now very commonplace in major college athletics."
Goebbel said those non-Big Green ticket holders and newcomers can alter that process during the ticket intent form process.
"When we send out the intent forms in February, we encourage people who have never joined the Big Green - maybe they've never given a dollar to the Big Green -- there will be a place on the intent form to get involved," Goebbel said. "You can join (the Big Green) at The Herd level, $50, and have that opportunity to pick in that first round, per se.
"And they'll have that opportunity until April 11, when the season ticket intent forms will be due back to us. Then we'll start to generate the orders for people to select their seats.
"We're not closing anybody out. We are encouraging people with an opportunity. The customers who were unable to get involved with the Vision Campaign who want to improve their opportunities to select better seats, they can do so for $50."
The form is open to all when it is available on HerdZone.com starting Monday. Potential customers can always come to the Herd ticket office in the Cam Henderson Center, or call 800-THE-HERD (800-843-4373) to get involved with the ticket intent form.
If a potential customer is not a Big Green member or renewing ticket holder it does not matter at this time. Simply have an idea of what you are committed to purchasing for the season and fill out the form.
"If they want to stop in here, they can fill it out then, or if they want to call in, we'll send them a form, or they can call and we'll fill it out while they're on the phone.
"The nice thing about the intent form is you're not out anything, no processing fee, no fee to submit the form. Of course, when you sign off on it, what's down there is your intent, and we're counting on you for that. In May, when we start the selection process, that's what you're going to order. You sign that intent form, you're not paying until May, and even at that point, you won't have to pay in full. You'll have an opportunity to select a three-installment payment plan."
Goebbel said that on the heels of the Herd's big season - it included double-digit victories for the first time in 11 seasons, a first C-USA Championship Game appearance and an impressive bowl win over ACC member Maryland - Marshall is expecting more of a rush for tickets than in recent years.
"Getting the ticket intent forms back in a hurry ... that's what we're planning on," Goebbel said. "This will be a new process for our fans (the stadium reseating plan and ticket intent form), and it's a new process for us, too. We've done our homework on this, and feel strongly that it's something that we needed to do to move our program forward.
"Some folks might be turned off by change, but when they see what we've done, the company (Ballena, and its virtual mapping system for ticket sales and allocation) we're working with, that competitive nature will come out in our customers to make sure they're in the best possible spot they can get. I am very confident it's going to work out for all parties involved."
Goebbel said fans purchasing tickets will have until an April 11 deadline to fill out the ticket intent form, but he encourages an early response because the demand for season seats is expected to be greater in anticipation of Coach Doc Holliday's fifth Marshall season.
"It's important for our fans to know that the ticket intent form is just the first step," the Herd ticket chief said. "The second step is - in a couple of weeks after the (April 11) deadline, individuals will receive another mailing that will indicate their priority (points) ranking, their date and time of selection, along with other important information with how to access the Ballena system and the opportunities it presents.
"One thing that's different now is traditionally at this time of year, we get calls about purchasing tickets and we are not able to sell specific seats to customers until the renewal process is over. The reseating procedure changes that practice.
"Now, if you are really set on ordering season tickets, it can only be beneficial for a potential customer to fill out the ticket intent form so they are involved with the selection process and not waiting until the end of June, when we go on sale to the general public.
"We definitely encourage people to get and fill out the intent form and get it back to us so you don't have to wait until everyone else ... and anyone can do that."
Goebbel said it's nice to anticipate a rise in season ticket sales to give a financial boost to the Herd program that has gotten national postseason coaches' poll votes (29th in the final ranking) and even 2014 "early preseason" Top 25 recognition from CBSSports.com.
He said the season ticket sales record is 19,635, set in 2007 when West Virginia visited Edwards Stadium for the first time. The Herd sold 16,027 season seats in 2010, but hasn't reached that number in the following years.
"We would like to be able to sell 15,000 season tickets year-in, year-out," Goebbel said. "That isn't unrealistic. With the expectations for the coming season, we can start doing that in 2014. Our season ticket intent form is a good way for fans to start getting in line."
The department will begin the 2014-15 men's basketball reseating process later this summer once it has completed the football reorganization.