But it turns out lots of other big-name programs around the country are using the deal-of-the-day platform to attract casual fans and help fill up the stadium on game day.
The Huskies have featured deals on Groupon twice this year. The first was for a Sept. 15 home game against lowly Portland State, with the athletic department offering a 51 percent discount on nosebleed 300-level seats.
“We evaluated our Groupon partnership as a great way to move distressed inventory, and expose our product to a different customer profile.” said assistant athletic director Carter Henderson.
Henderson said that more than 1,300 tickets were purchased for that game on Groupon. There were 54,922 in attendance that day (CenturyLink Field seats 67,000), so about 2.4 percent of the tickets were sold on Groupon.
“We had great feedback from the PSU game,” Henderson said.
So good, apparently, that the UW is doing it again for this Saturday’s game against Utah. It’s essentially the same deal with the same discount, with fans paying $40 for an $81 seat up in the 300 level. The deal ended Sunday at 11:59 p.m., with over 550 bought according to Groupon. Utah is mediocre at best this season and fans haven’t exactly circled this one on the calendar. It is, however, the final home game of the season.
Washington’s rivals down south in Eugene offered a similar deal earlier this season. Oregon wanted to extend a consecutive sellout streak that dates back to 1999, so they put up a discounted ticket package that included two sodas. The Ducks sold 978 tickets via Groupon, which helped Oregon continue the streak.
Many other programs are using Groupon, as well as professional teams. USC did it for football this year and basketball last season. Last college football season, Boston College, Colorado and Texas Christian used the daily deals to bring fans into the stadium.
I had a couple friends use the Groupon deal for the Portland State game earlier this season and I’m pretty sure they would not have gone had it not been for the good deal. So from an athletic department standpoint, teaming up with Groupon certainly can’t hurt if you’re not selling out every seat. And I think that’s especially the case for casual fans.
There are others out there that see the potential of this model. Crowd Seats, essentially a Groupon for sporting events, is one example of that.
Previously on GeekWire: Stanford in town for the big game? You may pay more for those tickets
Reach staff reporter Taylor Soper at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Taylor_Soper