With the newly incorporated non-profit program The Husky Ticket Project, three UConn grads have developed a way to combat empty seats at the XL Center, Rentschler Field and Gampel Pavilion — and train up a new generation of fans at the same time.
The idea for The Husky Ticket Project, which matches empty stadium seats with sports fans through a collaboration with local youth organizations and family centers, began 18 months ago with the goal of raising $4,000 for 40 football season-ticket packages.
Kevin Kortsep, Kevin Solomon and Jeremy Longobardi quickly met and exceeded that goal, sourcing donations from alumni to distribute more than 600 tickets to football and men’s and women’s basketball games to at-risk youth throughout Connecticut.
"Our athletic standing is not where it was when we were in school," Solomon told the Hartford Courant. “A lot of what you see on the internet is people complaining about attendance … so we wanted to not only have youths experience games they might not experience otherwise, but the way we're getting donations, the money is going into the athletic department funding.”
“It's a win, win, win,” he added. “There are bodies in the seats, there is money going into the athletic department, and we're helping out the local community, too.
The Husky Ticket Project has set a funding goal of $10,000 for the upcoming season, and already has a donor on board to match donations up to $5,000.
"If we're able to get people in the seats as youngsters, they're going to be the same people who are there later when teams are doing well, and they're going to want to share the memories they made,” said Solomon. “Their mentors are going to want to do the same. It's getting people to remember the experiences, not just the wins and losses."