Mike West and Adrian Rider might have been two of the happiest people in Omaha when Doug McDermott announced that he was returning to Creighton.
West is the Bluejays' assistant athletic director in charge of marketing efforts. Rider is the school's director of ticket sales operations.
Having McDermott around for one more season will make their jobs a whole lot easier next season.
“There aren't a lot of dots to connect with this one,” West said. “All-Americans win games. Winning puts people in the building.
“We're proud of what we do, but we can't do it without successful programs. You can never replace winning.”
Rider joined other Creighton staff members at the Vinardi Center on Thursday to watch McDermott announce that he would play one more season for the Bluejays rather than declare for the NBA draft.
Afterward, Rider made the half-mile walk back to his office at the Ryan Center.
“I walked pretty briskly,” he said, “but by the time I got there, the phones were already ringing.
“The calls we were getting were either people inquiring about when we were going to start selling season tickets or from our season-ticket holders making sure that they hadn't missed out on the renewal process.”
Creighton will mail out renewal information at the beginning of May. It won't start selling season tickets for upper-bowl seats at the CenturyLink Center until early June.
The Bluejays sold a record 13,731 season tickets for the 2012-13 season. That total does not include about 700 seats in the lower bowl reserved for Creighton students.
The Bluejays averaged 17,155 fans for their 17 home games. The average per-game attendance will put Creighton in the top 10 nationally again this season.
“I think it's safe to say we won't be going backward on those numbers,” Rider said. “At this point, I don't know if anyone knows what the financial implications will be in terms of additional revenue for the department.
“But I think having him back might mean that some fans that had not invested in season tickets before might now because they know this is going to be it for him. The fact that he is such a special player will make people want to come out and see him.”
McDermott's return also could reduce the amount of risk the Bluejays take on as they venture into the new Big East. One factor Creighton officials considered in the move from the Missouri Valley Conference was the impact that less success on the court might have on the bottom line.
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“I think having Doug back will give us a better chance in our highest-profile sport,” West said. “I think a lot of people will judge our move to the Big East by how we do in men's basketball.
“Having Doug back makes me breathe a little easier that we can have a good first year.”
The school's athletic department stands to benefit financially, not only in terms of increased season-ticket sales but also in the amount of money it receives from licensing agreements for merchandise sales.
“I'm sure we'll sell a few (No.) 3 jerseys next year,” West said.
In the past, the Bluejays have been active in donating upper-bowl season tickets to local organizations for fundraising events.
The school has found that it can retain a certain percentage of fans who purchase those tickets.
“A lot of times, those people have never seen a Creighton game or never been a season-ticket holder,” Rider said. “They like what they see, and they renew their tickets the next year. We've found that we probably have a 20 to 30 percent retention rate on those tickets.
“Doug's last year could have the same impact. People could buy tickets for the first time because they want to see him play. He gets them in the door, and then they find out they like the atmosphere or the product Coach is putting on the floor. Doug could be the hook that brings in a lot of people.”
Rider said Creighton plans to sell upper-bowl season tickets for $200 for adults and $130 for youths.
“We're trying to keep it affordable,” Rider said. “And we feel like if we can get them into the building, they'll like what they see.”
There is a fine line in advertising campaigns showcasing McDermott, West said.
“No matter what business you're in, there is a culture of that organization,” West said. “At Creighton, part of our culture, whether we're dealing with Ed Servais or Greg McDermott or Dana Altman when he was here, is that the team is more important than the individual.
“You can't de-emphasize how important an individual like Doug is, but at the same time you don't want to make it seem like you're singling a player out over the team or putting that player on a pedestal. You walk a fine line there sometimes.”
A player like McDermott — a two-time All-American and legitimate player of the year candidate — might provide West with a little more of a safety net.
“With Doug, you definitely want to take advantage of his notoriety,” he said. “At the same time, I haven't been around too many coaches that place more importance on team than Greg (McDermott).
“It makes for a bit of a balancing act sometimes.”
In the coming weeks, West and his staff will begin working on a marketing campaign for next season. One thing will be a no-brainer.
“Doug will be on the billboards,” West said with a chuckle. “There's no doubt about that one.”
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