Civic Center hopes to break away from track record - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Civic Center hopes to break away from track record

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November 9, 2004

Albany-- Less than 1,800 tickets had been sold by the morning of Friday's Willie Nelson concert; an event that was expected to have a huge South Georgia draw.

But despite the low turnout, the Civic Center is optimistic that the South Georgia Wildcats arena football team will play for a full house.

Less than 2,500 South Georgians bought tickets to see country legend Willie Nelson, nearly 2,000 fewer than his promoters expected. "If you're a little slow or a little off, it's not that big a deal, but his is about half of what we thought we'd do here," says concert promoter Jerry Bockman.

Civic Center officials say they were hoping for a bigger showing as well. "If we had done even better, than you get the whole stable of talent that promoter offers," says Civic Center Promotions and Marketing Manager Tony Ford.

Ford compares this year's ticket sales to a roller coaster, but with the promotions for the South Georgia Wildcats arena football team in full swing, he's still optimistic. "It's been hot, cold, and then it kind of turns into that lukewarm which is all right, but now for arena football, it's got to be hot," Ford says.

Billboards for season tickets have been up for about a week. Ford says a well-liked head coach like Chris Siegfried and a number of South Georgia natives on the team will only be a plus for a market that already loves football.

"We're talking about eight games in the summer, in the dead of the heat and now a time to go inside and cool off in the Civic Center," Ford says.

The Civic Center will also do a lot of creative marketing before the season starts. "The ownership operation has some active NFL players involved, so we think we're going to have a number of celebrities coming through."

Celebrities he's hoping will help to spark a wave of interest before the Wildcats hit the field. Ford says he expects greater participation from football fans from the entire region because the team is called the "South Georgia" Wildcats, not just the Albany Wildcats.

posted at 4:10PM by dave.miller@walb.com