When UMKC hired Dr. Brandon Martin as a new athletics director in December 2018, he was tasked with restructuring nearly the entire athletics department.
Since then, Martin has created the ‘Roo Promise,’ hired three people to help with external relations and rebranded the athletics program. The question is: How beneficial have all these changes been?
The athletics department was tasked with increasing ticket revenue 45% from the 2018-19 budget to 2019-20. It’s doing this while working to achieve Martin’s vision of “comprehensive excellence.”
“We are currently at 78% of that goal, with our highest revenue sports, men’s basketball and women’s basketball, just beginning,” Deputy Athletics Director for External Relations Curt Jacey said. “We are confident we will reach that goal.”
While basketball attendance is looking to be more profitable this season, fall sports did not quite meet the goals the athletics department was hoping for.
“Attendance for the Olympic sports for the fall has been flat,” Jacey said.
Women’s soccer drew 3,803 fans, 56 fewer than last year. 2,930 fans attended men’s soccer games, 897 fewer than last year, although they played three fewer home games. Women’s volleyball drew 3,257 fans, 556 fewer than 2018-19, but they too played three fewer home matches.
Aside from attendance, overall engagement from the athletics department has increased from last year. Kansas City Athletics’ social media accounts have increased their following by an average of 12% across their three social media platforms.
“From our student engagement at games, our season ticket holders, community members, we’ve had more people involved at our fall sports,” said Athletics Marketing Manager Hope McMorrow.
McMorrow also highlighted the strong turnout at the opening doubleheader for men’s and women’s basketball as a sign the success would carry into the spring.
One new addition this year is the ‘Rowdy Roos’ student-section, which allows students to come together to support their team.
“We want students to feel comfortable and also excited to engage by not only coming to games but being part of the Rowdy Roos,” McMorrow said. “Every school that has a great environment and atmosphere starts with the students, so the louder and more fun the students are having, the more the rest of the arena and community follow.”
Students who have attended games this year can see and feel the changes made to improve athletics from last year.
“I have been to a few basketball games so far this year,” sophomore Drew Wilson said. “I can tell how [the Athletics Department] is trying to focus more on the students. I also think that the yellow court has helped attendance because a lot of people want to see it.”
Changes like the yellow court are meant to enhance the audience’s experience while attending a game.
“Every game that we have fans enjoying their time and engaging with the action on the floor means a lot to the student-athletes, coaches, and our athletics staff,” McMorrow said. “Our target is always to fill the Swinney Center to create the best atmosphere possible and to make it an exciting place that people want to return to again and again to watch the Roos, whether we lose or get a great win.”