Tim Miles has one important preseason goal: Sell out new home Pinnacle Bank Arena.
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Tim Miles' Dream: Sold-Out Signs at Pinnacle Bank Arena

By NU Athletic Communications

Randy York’s N-Sider

“How do you go from where you are to where you want to be? I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal. You have to be willing to work for it.” – Jim Valvano

Since Tim Miles dreams big like Smarty Jones, no one was surprised Tuesday when Nebraska’s head basketball coach was highly encouraged, but not overly excited about a 49 percent increase in the public sale of 2013-14 season basketball tickets compared to 2012-13. “We want to get Pinnacle Bank Arena sold out, and we’re not quite there yet,” Miles said after learning that Nebraska’s Ticket Office has sold 10,355 season tickets to the general public, and that’s not counting student ticket sales, which reached 1,165 season ticket sales last year.

“When you walk into an arena that’s half full or two-thirds full, it gives you a sense of the confidence of the traveling team,” Miles said. “When you walk into sold-out arenas, you worry about getting your team to communicate. When the arena’s sold out, there’s so much more pressure on an opposing team to play in a certain manner.”

‘Bottom Line, I Want to See That Place Full’

Miles wants to maximize every opportunity Nebraska has to win in the nation’s toughest men’s basketball conference. “Bottom line, I want to see that place full,” he said, explaining why sold-out signs were part of his vision in a recent TV campaign. "We believe that sellouts will help take us from where we are now to where want to be," Miles said.

Jim Valvano, one of the most inspirational college basketball coaches of all time, said enthusiasm for life is a prerequisite, and anyone who knows Miles or has listened to him speak can check the box on that one.

Valvano says a coach needs to have a dream, and Miles doesn’t hide from his – win Nebraska’s first-ever NCAA Basketball Tournament game as quickly as possible. You can’t check the 'dream fulfilled' box yet, but you can put a check mark in the goal box.

And that leaves Valvano’s final criteria open for discussion … the willingness to work hard to make that dream a reality. Ask his players. Ask the coaches Miles hired. Ask all the schools that were going nowhere and ended up somewhere beyond where they’d ever been because Miles put himself in the driver’s seat.

‘I Want Fans to Be One of Biggest Obstacles’  

What we have is a coach who understands how important fans are to put a program on a faster track. “Opposing teams have to overcome so many obstacles that a home crowd can provide,” Miles said. “I want our fans to be one of the biggest obstacles in the building.

“If I’m a fan, I want part of the action, and I want to be there,” Miles added. “Pinnacle Bank Arena is going to be a premier place in the United States to play college basketball and to watch college basketball. The experience is going to be outstanding. My job is to put a product out there on the floor, so the experience of watching us play is even better.

“I think we’re on track and moving forward, and I really do hope we can sell this place out,” Miles said. “I want to create a situation where that ticket is extremely hard to come by.”

Capacity at Pinnacle Bank Arena is 15,147, and Nebraska already has sold 2,756 more season tickets than last season. That number is higher than it has been for 16 years, and it reflects Miles’ ability to communicate with existing fans, win new friends and influence everyone around him. I have a friend who recalls a plane getting delayed in Denver last year because of weather. Passengers who gathered at the gate were told that Lincoln and Omaha were not likely landing options.

High-Fiving Worn-Out Airline Passengers

“It was late on a Sunday night, and everybody started to look depressed,” my friend said, adding that Miles single-handedly lifted the spirits of just about everyone. “He told most of us the weather might change, and sure enough it did. He was high-fiving everybody when he got on the plane, and you wouldn’t believe what a difference he made in everyone’s attitude.”

Tim Miles wants Nebraska fans to envision the same sold-out signs he sees every day. When Nebraska Executive Associate Athletic Director Marc Boehm told Miles that a recent 21-day advertising campaign resulted in 1,130 new season ticket sales to the general public, Miles smiled. The video he starred in at the new arena had an impact, but he's ready to do whatever Marketing asks him to do next.

“All we wanted from that campaign was to communicate Tim’s vision to our fans, and it’s obvious they’re buying into his vision,” said Michael Stephens, Nebraska’s assistant athletic director for Marketing.

Wish Granted: Prime-Time Student Seating

Nebraska has reserved 1,500 student tickets, including tickets behind the team benches. Nebraska has sold 2,020 of the 2,065 available mezzanine seats and has sold all 616 suite and loge seats. Boehm said 6,410 lower-bowl seats have been sold. "A few single tickets remain that require a donation," said Holly Adam, Nebraska's assistant athletic director for Ticketing. "People interested in buying those tickets can call the athletic ticket office at 1-800-824-4733."

At this point, Nebraska has sold 1,309 of its 4,108 reserved seats in the upper bowl but expects to sell the rest when fans realize how affordable they are. “We’ve put a premium on value, and those seats are priced at only $85 for 17 home games – $5 a seat and no donation required,” Boehm said. “The seats are cushioned and the view’s good … it’s a great deal.”

When Miles hears about those seats on Thursday, he smiles because he can identify with the passion of those fans smart enough to buy those seats before someone else does. “That’s an outstanding value. That’s insane,” Miles said. “What a great way to get families inside the door. What a great way to get young people in the door.

“Not everyone has disposable income,” Miles said, “and I think our administration has done a really good job of making tickets available to everybody that wants to get in on the ground floor of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Every person who buys one of those tickets is important to me, my staff and our team. We want that place full, and we’re going to keeping working hard until it is.”

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