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Sunday, October 26, 2014
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Hobbs Column: More horrors in Death Valley than just a spotty defense

Last Modified: Thursday, October 24, 2013 8:10 PM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

Faced with the dilemma of an increasingly hard-to-fill Tiger Stadium, which will add 10,000 seats for next year even as it habitually springs leaks that empty out fans shortly after halftime, LSU officials have come up with the standard solution.

Yes, of course, they want to raise ticket prices.

The plan was unveiled last week.

That was just after a weekend in which an impressive LSU win over Florida was almost overshadowed by fan complaints about tangled traffic, oppressive heat, lack of concessions, piped in music, overstuffed concourses and the annoying guy dog-cussing the Tigers two rows back.

It was just before the most unexpected loss in several years, to Ole Miss, which, if you haven’t heard, means LSU’s season is officially over.

As planned, the price increases, which also include baseball tickets and parking, would have gone before the LSU Board of Supervisors for final approval today, perhaps hoping to ride in unnoticed amid the euphoria of that homecoming buzz for the long-awaited game with Furman on Saturday.

Maybe somebody finally noticed those empty seats late in the Florida game. Perhaps nobody figured on losing to Ole Miss. And, by chance, perhaps there was the realization that there aren’t 25 LSU fans who could tell you what Furman’s mascot is.

It’s the Paladins, by the way, which of course were “the foremost warriors of Charlemagne’s court” in lore, but who in fact are believed to be largely fictional.

Furman is in Greenville, S.C., and is state’s oldest private school that dates to 1826 and, for what it’s worth, has a replica of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin right there on campus, probably quite a recruiting tool there.

But that’s not important now — unless the football team is also fictional and nothing shows up Saturday night to entertain whoever wanders into Tiger Stadium.

But we stray.

Upon further review, perhaps somebody at LSU decided that the events of the last two weeks probably didn’t make it the best time to be agitating already-annoyed fans with ticket increases.

Oh, it’s coming. Don’t worry. But it will be tabled in today’s Board of Supervisors meeting and not discussed until the next meeting in early December.

Maybe the idea is that, if the tickets are more expensive, more of them will actually get used and, if used, be used for the full 60 minutes of the game.

But it’s not like they’re cheap now.

That’s the funny thing.

LSU’s isn’t having any trouble SELLING tickets, at least at current prices. The problem is getting people to USE the tickets that they’ve already paid for. And, once there, to stay there.

We talked about this last week, if you recall. It’s not just LSU’s problem.

It’s college-wide, and it seems worse among success-spoiled fan bases like LSU’s.

At Alabama it’s such a problem that Nick Saban himself weighed in this week.

Empty seats, either at the start of the game or after it starts, apparently aren’t part of Saban’s famed “process.”

He chided his own fans this week to get their fannies in those seats and to keep them there. He even insinuated that it was hurting recruiting, which ought to scare them into religion.

“Maybe if you’re not interested in doing that, you should let someone else go who would really like to go,” Saban said. “Because I have a lot of people who want to go.”

LSU’s Les Miles spoke in typical Pig Latin code when addressing the matter last week, and now perhaps it’s best to keep quiet the week after losing to Ole Miss and the same week somebody scheduled Furman for you.

I’ve heard from several LSU season-ticket holders who get emails from LSU thanking them for coming to the games, but get no email when not using the tickets. Those bar codes in the tickets are powerful things. They know when you’ve been in Tiger Stadium and when you’ve been AWOL. It’s only a matter of time before they know when you leave, if they don’t already.

What they do with the info, who knows? Just saying.

The funny thing is LSU football has never been more popular.

But the TV networks seem to be reaping most of the entertainment benefits while sucking a lot of the life and reputation out of Tiger Stadium itself. More and more famous stadiums are becoming TV studios.

As I said last week, it’s not the heat, it’s the high-def.

What LSU needs to do, strange as it sounds to some of the old-time, hard-core fans, is to better compete with the living room.

In today’s society, spending four hours in Tiger Stadium is akin to being cut off from the world, save the live football game down below.

Horrors — no WiFi. Difficult, often-spotty cellphone service. It’s a living nightmare.

Yeah, it’s spoiled behavior, but kids these days can’t be away from their iPads and Twitter and Facebook for more than an hour without going into physical withdrawal. So they leave and head straight to Instagram.

Don’t make fun of them. Do something about it. It would mean spending money on super-charged WiFi or getting involved with cellphone providers for that solution. But surely it could be done.

To better recreate the living room experience, keep fans better updated on the rest of the college football world. The world isn’t LSU-centric. As is, it’s rare you even hear another score mentioned in Tiger Stadium unless they think it’s something the fans will really like.

Those big video screens (only one this year due to the construction) could be used here. During those long TV timeouts, let the stadium do what fans in front of the home TVs get to do — switch and do a drop-in on another game being televised.

Georgia and Mississippi State both did this during LSU’s games this year. It kept things interesting.

As for the traffic, I don’t have a clue. Part of football.

• • •

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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