The University of Memphis announced last week that former NBA player and Tigers star, Penny Hardaway, is the team’s new coach. To celebrate the high profile hire, the Tigers athletics department has announced that season ticket prices are going up – by one penny.
Season tickets have now been raised to $100.01 and will be sold at a first-come, first-serve basis; the school athletic department expects a high demand because of Hardaway’s return. The university noted that over the past four years, ticket prices have either dropped or stayed the same, but this price increase is due to a decline in game attendance. School President M. David Rudd said that the program lost $4.7 million in revenue over the past year with the lowest-attended season throughout the team’s 48 years. Additionally, season ticket sales dropped to 4,115; another reason for hiring Hardaway.
“Our overall financial picture was not good in the least,” Rudd said at a news conference Tuesday. “We have responded to that. We think we will see recovery quickly and we’ve already seen evidence that that is going to happen.”
Hardaway originally played for the Tigers in the early ’90s, before entering in the 1993 NBA draft. He started off his career playing for the Orlando Magic and Pheonix Suns, followed by two years with the New York Knicks and finishing with the Miami Heat in 2007.
Now 46-years-old, the star will be the university’s 19th coach – one of the three alumnus to instruct the team. He will take over the position from former coach Tubby Smith, who was fired after two seasons with the Tigers. Memphis hopes that the return of the basketball legend will not only help the team have a solid season, but also improve audience attendance.
Steve Macey, associate athletic director for external affairs, told The Commercial Appeal that the phones have been “ringing off the hooks” as past season ticket holders try to renew their tickets.