STILLWATER — Adam Barnes remembers the way the combination of rust and rain would ruin a white shirt when he attended Oklahoma State football games at Lewis Field as a student in the early 2000s.
And the way the stands were never close to full.
So Barnes, now OSU's director of sales, admits he never would have imagined the Cowboys would ever be pushing toward selling 50,000 season tickets, a number the school could legitimately hit by kickoff on Sept. 1 after setting a new public sales record for the second consecutive year.
As of Monday afternoon, OSU had sold 36,668 public season tickets, an increase from last year's mark of 36,651. Compare that to 2008, when OSU sold 30,309 public season tickets.
“It's a goal of ours to grow our fan base and to retain our fan base,” Barnes said, “and we're beginning to do that like we never have at Oklahoma State.”
The next key number to surpass is the total number of season tickets sold to the public and students of 48,714. OSU's figure as of Monday afternoon was 41,229, a number that is skewed right now because students usually wait until returning to campus for the fall semester to buy tickets.
Of course, the Cowboys' 41-11 record over the past four seasons, capped by last season's historic run to their first Big 12 championship and a dramatic overtime victory over Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl, makes the job easier for Barnes and his staff in the marketing and ticket offices. But they have also used other means to try to increase ticket sales.
For the first time, OSU hired a three-person staff of retention representatives this year to focus on working with season-ticket holders to ensure they would renew for 2012. Additionally, OSU extended its “Fun Zone,” a discounted area in the 300 level, by three sections, while any seat in the 300 level came at a discounted price when a four-pack of tickets was purchased.