Texas Tech officials said they needed less than 24 hours from the announcement of Kliff Kingsbury’s hiring to detect an uptick in fan interest in the football program.
The former Tech quarterback was named Red Raiders head coach Wednesday night. From that point to the end of the business day Thursday, Tech spokesman Blayne Beal said, Tech received reservations for 533 season tickets next season and $29,585 in donations to the Red Raider Club scholarship fund.
Normally, Tech doesn’t begin season-ticket sales for the next year until after the bowl game.
“That’s a great response for as little marketing as we’ve done for it,” Beal said. “That’s people actively going out and searching and looking for it. We feel like as that word continues to spread, those numbers will only go up.”
About 200 of the season-ticket reservations and about $18,000 of the donations were done overnight online, by 8 a.m. Thursday.
“We felt like it was important to give people that opportunity while the excitement was going on last night,” Beal said, “so we’re really excited about that. The deposit was $50 a seat, and we had over 200 (by 8 a.m.). That growth, obviously, is tremendous.”
Beal said Tech has also reached 7,400 in ticket sales for the upcoming Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, a one-day increase of about 2,000. Tech’s allotment for the bowl is 12,000 tickets.
Kingsbury won’t be coaching in the bowl game.
However, Tech expects to capitalize on his popularity. The donations were made online through kingsbury.kintera.org and texastech.donornetpac.com.
“We’re seeing new donors that we either haven’t been engaged with or haven’t engaged us recently or are back getting involved possibly for the first time,” said Amy Heard, associate athletic director/Red Raider Club. “So that’s really exciting.”
Heard said Kingsbury is “a walking, talking
example” of what a Red Raider Club scholarship fund donation can help produce. Kingsbury played for the Red Raiders from 1999 through 2002.
“A student-athlete that was a recipient of Red Raider Club scholarship fund dollars while here at Texas Tech got his degree, left the university and is now back as our head coach of football,” Heard said. “It’s the best example you can have of ... when you give to the scholarship fund, what it does.”
Local businesses noticed the impact of Kingsbury’s hiring shortly after opening their doors Thursday morning.
Cardinal’s Sport Center on Slide Road sold out its remaining inventory of Texas Tech autograph footballs, about 30 according to store manager Josh Martin.
“During the first part of the season when they have the big deal for fans at the Jones, there’s a big rush for (the footballs),” Martin said. “But for that many to sell this late in the season is rare.”
In addition to the footballs, Martin said Cardinal’s sold a larger-than-normal amount of Tech apparel in general Thursday.
And another item in particular quickly became a must-have.
“This is a little weird, but we’ve had a lot of requests for the Oakley Frogskin sunglasses (Kingsbury) wears,” Martin said. “And it’s not some $20 pair of sunglasses.”
In fact, the shades retail on Oakley’s website for between $90 and $140
“The energy has definitely been there,” Martin said.
Managers at other local apparel stores also said they’ve seen more merchandise and apparel flying off the shelves since the Kingsbury hiring.
“All the merchandise has gone up with Christmas coming but there has definitely been a high demand for the Kingsbury shirts,” said Red Raider Outfitter manager Stephanie Hartwig. “Everyone who has come in seems really excited about him coming back — especially the people who watched him play when he went to Tech.”
Hartwig said the store has four different Kingsbury shirts and jerseys that will be arriving within the next week. One of the arrivals got in Thursday morning, she added.
“It says ‘Kliff Knows’ on the front and ‘Air Raid Victory Texas Tech swagger’ on the back,” she said. “All of the shirts have a different quote on them with a picture of Kingsbury’s infamous Ray-Ban sunglasses.”
All of the new apparel has been placed online, she added.
Kingsbury’s eyewear has caught the attention of some of the Lubbock community, increasing traffic into the Oakley store.
Steven Gutierrez with Oakley said the traffic has definitely increased since Kingsbury arrived.
“I don’t know if sales have increased just yet, but we’ve definitely had a lot more people coming in to look at them because of him,” Gutierrez said. “There have been a lot of people saying, ‘I want to see the ones that Kliff Kingsbury is wearing.’ We’ve sold a couple of pairs today.
“Hopefully we do see an increase in sales later, but right now I wouldn’t say they have.”
Gutierrez said his store manager mentioned seeing a lot more people coming to look at the Oakley shades as well.
Matador manager Greg Gatlin said people seem excited to see what Kingsbury will do, but the store hasn’t had a chance to capitalize on Kingbury’s potential impact.
“Our art department is still working on a few designs for shirts right now but there should be something in by Friday,” Gatlin said. “We also had a lot of extra blank Under Armour jerseys that we are going to use to put Kingsbury’s name and old number on it.”
Gatlin said he’s not sure how many different shirts the store will sell but he’s looking forward to enthusiastic customers coming in to purchase them.
Varsity Bookstore manager Bob Davenport said his store will eventually have Kingsbury apparel in stock, but does not know when.
Because there haven’t been any new arrivals at this time, sales have remained the same, but Davenport said he has seen happier faces after the big announcement.
“Everybody I’ve talked to this morning seems excited,” he said.
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