Arizona women's basketball uses unique promotions
The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Arizona lost to ASU on Sunday 60-36 at home. The Wildcats lost 60-36 at ASU on Feb. 4 but beat the Sun Devils 68-49 on Sunday. The Daily Wildcat regrets the error.
For a program that has struggled greatly over the past decade, getting people in the stands to watch the Arizona women’s basketball team is not always easy.
Since the quality of matchups can fluctuate on a game-by-game basis, promotions are often the backbone of getting people in the seats.
The marketing department for Arizona Athletics consists of five people and is responsible for coming up with creative promotions to better fill the arenas and stadiums that house school sports teams.
Children hold up signs at the UA vs Wake Forest women's basketball game at McKale Center on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013.
Drew Gaschler, assistant director of marketing, is in charge of setting up the women’s basketball promotions.
“We go through the schedule and see which games we really want to develop fun and interactive promotions for our fans,” Gaschler said. “We just develop that list and promote it. Hopefully, it’ll be something that lands and our fans enjoy.”
In a difficult season that has seen the Wildcats go 1-11 in conference play, they have used promotions to help draw fans.
“It’s a big part of the game day atmosphere and it really helps us a lot in our energy,” freshman forward Breanna Workman said. “We love having fans at our games.”
The highest-attended home game of the season was on Nov. 26 against Wake Forest in what was the annual “Field Trip Day” promotion. According to a press release, more than 3,000 elementary and middle school students were in attendance.
In total, almost 5,000 fans filled McKale Center for the 11 a.m. game.
“The team loves that day,” Gaschler said. “They love having the crowd behind them to support them. That’s what we try to do. That’s our ultimate goal: to give not only the fans a good experience, but the student athletes a good experience.”
Other promotions include “Picture Day with the Cats,” “Christmas with the Cats,” which included a tacky sweater contest, “Wag Your Tail in McKale,” where fans could bring dogs, and “Girl Scout Night.”
However, the best experience of the season may be the most recent game played in McKale Center.
The Wildcats beat No. 11 ASU 68-49 on Sunday.
Since the game was a mere four hours before a men’s basketball game, ZonaZoo members who came to the women’s game received a wristband that allowed them to stay in their seats for the men’s game, ensuring they would receive the best possible seats and essentially beat the normal rush for men’s basketball.
The result was an energized crowd on hand to witness the program’s first victory over a ranked team since 2005 and the biggest game of the 2013-14 season for the Wildcats.
“It was a huge impact,” UA head coach Niya Butts said. “I need to make sure I tweet some of the ZonaZoo section for certainly coming to the game early … and being a huge part of our victory.”
For a program in need of consistency and support, promotions are one of several ways to get the Tucson community behind the team.
—Follow Roberto Payne @HouseOfPayne555