Hofstra athletic officials rethink revenue plans amid pandemic

By Daniel Robertson

As we enter the new year with Covid-19 cases continuing to rise, Hofstra University has followed every protocol that the NCAA has provided in order to ensure their student-athletes stay safe.

As the basketball teams start their respective seasons, Hofstra has already begun to generate revenue with new methods. There are no fans at games, causing challenges and opportunities for the athletic department.

“It has given us an opportunity to think differently on how to generate revenue during Covid-19 and think outside the box to keep us in the hunt for sponsorship dollars and revenue dollars during a challenging time,” said Jay Artinian, Hofstra’s deputy director of athletics and chief revenue officer.

The pandemic has caused Hofstra University to rethink its athletic revenue plans, which include cardboard fan cutouts for a fee. Fans say the cutouts show their love for the Pride. Photo courtesy Hofstra Athletics

The virtual season ticket experience for Hofstra basketball this season includes cardboard seat cutouts during home games, a private online hub for exclusive content, film room breakdowns and pre-game chalk talk sessions of select opponents, watch parties and pregame and halftime shows with special guests and performances. Ticket pages range from $75 to $150.

“We look forward to navigating these uncharted waters with you and doing whatever we can to make this season special for our Hofstra fans,” said Chrissy Arnone, associate director of athletics for marketing and strategic partnerships, in a story on Hofstra’s athletic website.

Sponsorships by businesses are also offered. The packages are visible during the game broadcast and include signage in the Mack Sports Complex.

The global pandemic has forced most fall and winter sports to be moved into the spring, which not only affects the athletes and coaches, but also fans and students. Virtual tickets help bridge the gap of safety and fandom.

Tino Pattigno, a journalism student at Hofstra University, has a cardboard cutout in the stands and believes it shows his passion as a fan of Hofstra basketball.

“Having a cardboard cutout at the Hofstra Pride basketball games this year means so much more than my face in the crowd,” he said. “With the pandemic, we don’t have the in-person events and games like we used to at Hofstra, and that has been pretty tough for me. I’ve gotten to see some game replays in which my cutout has been in the background. That gives me a sense of pride, knowing that although I can’t be there in person, my love for the Hofstra Pride will still be represented in some way.”

Artinian said he hopes the cutout experience is satisfying for the diehard fans who will be unable to be in the Mack Sports Complex this winter.

“We wanted to give fans an opportunity to be able to enjoy Hofstra basketball with our partnership with the Colonial Athletic Association,” Artinian said. “We thought the fan cutout and virtual experience is the next best way to satisfy that opportunity when we can’t actually have people in the stands.”

As for the coming months and future sports seasons? Patience, planning, and persistence.

“We’re going to see how it plays out going forward,” he said. “A lot depends on what the new regulations are. In every progression of the pandemic, we continue to learn about the pandemic and what the best approach is for indoor and outdoor sports. The NCAA has a lot of rules and guidelines, depending what sport you are and what that classification is for that sport. I think we’re going to use the winter as a measure to see how successful we can be with other sports.”