Southern Illinois sold on Saluki football

By Gus Bode

Early season ticket sales seem strong, slogan unveiled

SIU marketing has unveiled its anticipated slogan for the 2004 football season, referencing last year’s “Thunder and Lightning” campaign that was the backdrop of the Salukis’ return to respectability.

A flood of radio commercials and print ads begin in the fall, reminding students that if you thought Thunder and Lightning was impressive, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

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The campaign has not kicked off and will not for a while, but one would not know it at the SIU ticket office. They have been busy even though it’s only July, and if ticket sale projections are correct, they ain’t seen nothing yet.

With one day left to renew season tickets, the office is being swamped with people attempting to secure a spot in McAndrew Stadium for the fall. No hard numbers are available yet, but based on what Ticket Manager Brad Pietz has seen at the SIU Arena, the football team will likely enjoy plenty of support now that they are the preseason No. 1 team in the nation.

Season ticket sales are expected – at least – to match last year’s total of 1,250. And according to Pietz, it will likely be surpassed.

“Easily,” Pietz said when asked if season ticket sales will match last year. “In fact, our goal is 1,500. I think that will be easily surpassed.”

Today is the final day to renew season tickets, although Pietz said some would be renewed even after the deadline.

As of closing time Tuesday, Pietz estimated that about 85 percent of season tickets had been renewed, which is said to be right on schedule with a day to go. Hard numbers will not be available until after today.

“It’s kind of hard to count because they’re coming in literally as we speak, but I’d say we’re probably at 85 percent or so,” Pietz said.

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The school is eventually hoping for 91-95 percent renewal. One hundred percent is impossible because of people moving away, running out of money and, unfortunately, dying.

“Anything over 90 is ideal,” said Mike Trude, SIU’s marketing director.

Pietz has been particularly impressed with the number of new season tickets being sold. As with season ticket renewals, he has no numbers yet, but has seen anecdotal evidence pointing toward a full stadium in the fall.

Late Tuesday afternoon, he sold 14 new season tickets in only 10 minutes, and has heard talk about the team’s hype – something he sees as impressive considering the school has not done any advertising yet.

SIU’s predicted success is likely to boost single ticket and season ticket sales once the season begins, which would add on to what could shape up to be a great financial football season.

“We’re pretty happy with where we are,” Pietz said.

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