POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Sep 8, 2010
Television ratings and the demand for tickets for the football game against Southern California paint an encouraging picture should the University of Hawaii choose to go independent, UH officials said.
The Thursday night game on ESPN attracted 1,721,000 households, an ESPN spokesman said. "That is a good rating," said Michael C. Humes of ESPN, considering the 11 p.m. East Coast time kickoff.
UH reported 44,204 tickets issued and a turnstile count of 41,776 for the game, the most for a regular-season home game since the 2007 finale against Washington.
"I think, going forward, no matter what happens -- especially if we end up going independent -- there's going to be more Thursday and Friday night games," athletic director Jim Donovan said.
For the Warriors to have a chance to be successful as an independent in football, UH officials have said the school would need to have its own TV agreement.
Donovan said such a package would probably have to take the form of "a last-game-of-the-day" niche and could include some Thursday and Friday night games. "We'd have to be open to that," Donovan said.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority estimated visitor spending by USC fans here for the game at "over $10 million," said Michael Story, HTA sports coordinator.
USC had an allotment of 7,500 tickets and UH estimated about 8,000 Trojans fans traveled to the game.
In addition, officials suggest the game likely had its largest following in the prime West Coast travel market. "However you slice it, it was a big win for Hawaii," Story said.
That, too, is important to UH, since the school has had exploratory talks with HTA officials about possible travel support in the future.