Cleveland State introduces ticketing for women’s games

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Cleveland State will charge admission specifically for women’s basketball games during the 2023-24 season, reversing the free admission policy of recent seasons, the school announced on Wednesday.

The move, termed a “strategy” by CSU, primarily involves selling a package covering ten of the team’s 16 regular season home games for $99. Six of the games included in the package are half of a doubleheader with the Vikings men’s team — and therefore would be ticketed events even without the new strategy — but the remaining four games are standalone women’s games.

Here is the full list of ticketed women’s games:

November 22 – Austin Peay (Viking Invitational at Woodling Gym)
November 24 – Chicago State (Viking Invitational at Woodling Gym)
November 25 – UMKC (Viking Invitational at Woodling Gym)
December 10 – Akron
January 6 – Youngstown State
January 13 – Purdue Fort Wayne
January 20 – IUPUI
February 3 – Green Bay
February 17 – Milwaukee
March 2 – Northern Kentucky

The four standalone affairs are, arguably, the Vikings’ four biggest home games of the season, including projected Horizon League favorites Youngstown State, Purdue Fort Wayne and Green Bay, as well as local non-conference opponent Akron. Those games will have general admission tickets available later, though fans with the ten-game plan will be given courtside seats for the contests. Single-game purchases for the remaining six dates simply involve buying a ticket for the men’s game on that day.

“The $99 package includes a number of doubleheader dates, where fans can see both the men’s and women’s basketball teams in action for one low price, in addition to courtside seats at four standalone women’s home games at the Wolstein Center, and each game of the Viking Invitational that will be played at Woodling Gym,” CSU Director of Athletics Scott Garrett wrote in his monthly update.

“We are excited to build upon the momentum of last year’s Horizon League Tournament Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance, and to capitalize on the positive energy surrounding women’s basketball across the country.”

Games that will retain free admission under the new strategy include:

November 1 – Malone (exhibition)
November 18 – Central Michigan
November 29 – Robert Morris
December 6 – Niagara
January 10 – Detroit Mercy
February 7 – Wright State
February 15 – Oakland

Outside of the CMU contest, which is scheduled for a Saturday, the unticketed games will be played on Wednesdays and Thursdays while those with an admission cost are slated for Saturdays and Sundays, or are part of the Viking Invitational during Thanksgiving week in undersized Woodling Gym.

Prior to the announcement, the Vikings were the only team in the Horizon League, and one of a very small number across NCAA Division I, that did not charge for admission for most home games (outside of doubleheaders requiring a ticket for the men’s game, of course). And while CSU is not yet ticketing for every game, it seems like an inevitability, should the coming season proceed smoothly.

Beyond the obvious potential to pull a few thousand dollars of ticket revenue per game, there’s also a stealthy bit of messaging involved, particularly given the timing of the move as the Vikings prepare to defend a Horizon League championship. Specifically, it amplifies the idea that CSU women’s basketball is something worth paying to see, a clever twist on the typical mechanics of pricing and perceived value, where the former usually follows the latter.

A subtle attempt to elevate the program can also be found in the tip times for Cleveland State’s games, as the vast majority have now been posted to the 2023-24 schedule. Notably, of the six doubleheader dates two, January 20th against IUPUI and March 2nd against Northern Kentucky, involve the women’s team playing in the evening following the men’s game. That inversion of the typical order for those events will give the women’s team a start with a couple thousand people already in the building, and should greatly boost the eyeball count for those contests.

Most other weekday home games will start at 7:00 PM, while weekend starts will usually be between 12:00 noon and 2:00 PM. One exception, February 15th (a Thursday) against Oakland, is still listed as “TBA” and will likely become the Vikings’ annual school day game with a start time in the late morning or early afternoon.

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