- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

HONOLULU (AP) - A shortage of paying customers at University of Hawaii football games may cause financial problems for the athletic program and its 21 sports.

Attendance for the Rainbow Warriors first four home games at Aloha Stadium has averaged 25,263 fans, nearly 2,100 fewer fans per game than last year and the lowest attendance since a winless season in 1998, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (https://bit.ly/1w3wueA) reported.

Attendance at the last home game against Wyoming was 20,405, the lowest attendance figure at Aloha Stadium for a Hawaii game since the Northwestern game in 1998.

The athletic program had projected ticket sales this year of nearly $3.9 million. The Rainbow Warriors have three home games remaining, but if the trend continues, ticket sales could fall $500,000 or more short of projections.

Football is the athletic department’s biggest money-producing sport. Football ticket revenue accounts for about 12 percent of the $32 million athletic department budget.

Even if UH were to have hit the projected ticket revenue, there would still be a deficit of nearly $1.5 million, athletic director Ben Jay told the Board of Regents in August.

Unless there is a flurry of single-ticket sales for the last three home games against Nevada, Utah State and Nevada-Las Vegas, the deficit will increase to about $2 million.

But Hawaii (2-5) comes into the last part of the season fresh off a 20-10 loss to San Diego State, dousing hopes that ticket sales will be reignited by a conference title run.

The financial troubles come amid direction from UH President David Lassner for the athletic department to look to the community and Legislature for financial assistance rather than the university.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, https://www.staradvertiser.com

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