This upcoming season, Fairfield’s Stags in the Stands is teaming up with Associate Director of Athletics/Marketing and Communications Pete Kirschner and Director of Student Involvement Fred Kuo to make attending Fairfield athletic games even easier and even more rewarding.

After seeing such low attendance at Fairfield games, the university began to implement ideas and strategies to get students to attend and support the teams, starting with the upcoming basketball season.

According to John Frain ‘17, “I like sports and would go anyway, but there is no excitement and fan participation.”

“We’re looking to make the games more of a social atmosphere and event that you would want to go to,” said Kirschner.

Because most men’s games take place at Webster Bank Arena, the university provides transportation to and from the arena. In the past, the bus ran on a singular loop: bringing students once to the game and once back. However, this year, to make attending the game even simpler, busses will be running on a continuous loop starting 60 minutes prior to the game.

Along with transportation, from talking with students Kuo and Kirschner gathered that students are hindered from going to the game because picking up the ticket can be difficult in the course of a busy day. Instead of picking up a ticket from Einstein’s or the Barone Campus Center Information Desk, students have several different options. Students, according to Kuo, can sign up for tickets in advance through OrgSync and receive them in their mailbox, or even easier,  students can take the bus to the game and immediately after getting off the bus, Stags in the Stands’ members will hand out tickets before they head into the arena.

In addition to transportation and ticketing improvements, more rewards will be given out to the students who attend the games.

Last year, the university created an app called the Super Stag Rewards Program, for not only athletics, but also student events. The app, which just recently has shifted over to focus just on athletic games, allows students the opportunity to check in at games and receive points for each check in. For example, if a student attends 15 games, they can receive a “Fear the Deer” T-shirt and eventually, for the “Super Fans” of the school, students can receive a $400 airfare voucher to be used anywhere in the continental U.S.

“We want to reward those for turning out and I think you see that everywhere,” said Kuo. “You go to Starbucks, you get your rewards, you go to Stop and Shop, you get your rewards.”

The prizes that can be picked up at halftime at any Fairfield game location have been well received by the students.

“Students like the extra bonus,” said Stags in the Stands Co-President Taylor Rooney ‘16.  “Obviously you’re going to the game because you enjoy going and that kind of thing, but you’re also going to get rewarded for going, so it’s a plus.”

Beyond the app that is available for free on the App Store, Kuo, Kirschner and Stags in the Stands have created a promotion to get students to basketball games in the next upcoming months. The promotion, which was introduced at Red Sea Madness, is called the SuperFan app and it consists of five different parts. Students can receive an authentic, throwback basketball jersey as long as they have built the rest of their outfit. For attending game one of the slated promotion games, students receive a performance T-shirt that they must wear to the next game in order to receive a headband. After receiving and wearing the new articles of clothing to each game, they will be rewarded with the throwback jersey.

They are hoping that this promotion will get students to go to games and continue to go to games.

As far as what students want out of this, Frain said that they need “the right incentives that relate to college students. Maybe free books or food, and more creative events at halftime.”

“We need to provide reasons for the students to want to come. Students want to do things, they want to go to games and they want to go to Red Sea Madness and it’s our job to make it an opportunity that they want to seek out and they want to participate in,” said Kirschner.  “Like I said, we want to create an atmosphere for students.”

The program has taken several steps to create this atmosphere. Not only have they hired a DJ to entertain at games, there’s plenty of rewards.

“We want to give students a fun experience outside the lines of the court whether or not the team wins,” said Abigail Corning, graduate assistant of sports marketing and promotions. “We still want them to say ‘I still had a good time and I’m going to go back and support them.’”

“When the ball stops bouncing, at Webster, at Alumni, at the lacrosse stadium, at soccer games, anywhere,” said Kirschner. “It’s our job to make sure we have an atmosphere for the students.”

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