Originally Posted by pearbear
Attendance: This is the least proven area of the program at this point. After passing the 2,000 threshold 2 seasons ago, Cal dropped back to the 1600s. I know there are many factors that go into attendance at a place like Berkeley, but I think it would not be too much to expect that after another 5 winning years, Cal should be able to average about 3000 fans. This would be important for the health of the program (and the athletic department) and for women's basketball. This might also play into what happens with Joanne's next contract extension. With the economy and the pressures on the athletic department and continuing low attendance, could the university come up with enough to keep Joanne?
A couple of years ago I would have said that recruiting, results, and revenue all go hand in hand but as you noted, attendance has not increased to the expected level.
In the last season before Joanne arrived, we averaged 1335 per game. In Joanne's 5 years, we've gone to 1657, 1656, 2363, 2285, and 1561. (If you discount the hastily-scheduled WNIT games of this season to make it an apples-to-apples comparison, the 2009-10 figure would still be only 1684.)
In Joanne's first season, both she and Sandy commented that there wasn't any reason why we couldn't eventually draw the type of crowds that they had at Duke. If we took that to mean the most recent season (2004-05), Duke drew 4966. If we took that to mean Joanne's last year as an assistant at Duke (2001-02), it would be 3919. Either way I thought that was extremely ambitious and unrealistic, and I too thought that averaging 3000 after 5 years would be a realistic goal IF we started winning within a couple of years. Well, the winning came right away but the expected attendance hasn't.
Now, I'm sure revenue has increased more than attendance because ticket prices have increased, sections 15-17 have been converted from general admission to reserved seating, and discounts have been cut (seniors who had season tickets in the chairback sections had their senior discounts discontinued this past season). It's also my distinct impression that the percentage of non-paying or giveaway-ticket attendees has dropped, especially this past season. But given WBB's big deficit, these are small dents and way short of any realistic goal that would have been set 5 years ago (or 3 years ago, when Joanne's contract was renegotiated).
WBB's revenue (or more precisely, revenue shortfall) should definitely be an issue the next time Joanne's contract is renegotiated. But the issue may be framed in terms of what Joanne can realistically demand in the face of that deficit. It's true that for now, successful WBB coaches can continue to make their demands because if one program won't pay, then another will. But as this article
suggests, there's no guarantee that schools will be forever content to spend more and more money for the intangible benefits (and never-ending deficits) of a winning WBB program. I wonder if we've started to see the beginnings of a pushback against WBB spending this postseason, with the selection of inexperienced coaches and assistants over more experienced (and costly) veterans, and the willingness to retain failing coaches who in earlier years might have been bought out of their contracts.