Titans, TV competing for fans’ gameday dollars

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Not that one had anything to do with the other, but every time Jennifer Presley was pregnant with her three children, she camped at LP Field, with husband John, waiting in line to buy Titans single-game tickets.

Now that the two boys and one girl (age range: six months to 6 years old) have arrived, it has become a Presley tradition to find their way back to the front of the line whenever single-game seats become available.

“It’s fun and the kids love it,” Jennifer Presley said Friday morning, while sitting in the shade and bouncing her youngest on her knee as the other two kids scurried about just outside the ticket booths.

“All eight years we have been married, we have been doing this,” she added. “We wouldn’t have it any other way. This is a family tradition.”

Arriving at 6 a.m. some four hours before tickets went on sale, the Presleys found themselves fourth in a rather short line. Claiming to be the first in line for a third-straight year, David Cline showed up at 9 the previous morning and was the only camper Thursday night guaranteeing a spot in line.

“I think this is the smallest turnout it has been,” said Cline, 46, who fought off Thursday’s afternoon rain and a humid night by sleeping under a small tree while brandishing only an umbrella, sleeping bag and two pillows.”I guess everybody is purchasing their tickets online,” he added. “I don’t have a credit card, so I have to come pay cash. But I would still camp out even if I had a credit card.”

Ironically, the Presleys and Cline got in line early to purchase tickets to only one game — the Oct. 20 visit by the Super Bowl runner-up 49ers.

“My husband is excited to see the 49ers play,” Presley said. “I just want to see them get beat.”

Like last season, the Titans placed around 3,000 single-season tickets on sale Friday to the general public. Once upon a time in Titans history, all 10 home games — eight regular season and two preseason — would sell out within hours, if not minutes.

But last year, the Titans only sold out three times — Steelers, Patriots and Bears — on the first day tickets went on sale to the general public. They would eventually sell out every game, adding to the streak of 144 straight home sellouts since the downtown stadium opened in 1999.

“It’s something that we don’t take for granted,” Titans executive vice president Don MacLachlan said of the 144 sellouts in the stadium that seats 69,143. “We intend to get to 154 (this season). We have been proactive more than we ever have been before.

“I think we have a manageable number to deal with. If we had 10,000 tickets to sell per game, we would be sitting here in a whole different situation.”

The Titans are banking on a reversal from last season’s disappointing 6-10 record, mostly in part to signing 16 free agents at a cost of more than $100 million and a successful draft that combined to address a multitude of concerns, as head coach Mike Munchak heads into his third season at the helm.

Meanwhile on the business side, MacLachlan and troops have been focused on continuing to enhance the overall game experience, especially when more and more fans have the temptation to stay at home, save their money and watch games on high-definition television.

Those thoughts were espoused Friday by David Martindale, who was hanging around LP Field while mulling what to do when it came to renewing his season tickets — a requirement to maintain PSL (personal seat license) status.

“I am thinking about not re-upping this year,” said Martindale, a teacher at a local arts school. “My wife and I were victims of the (2010) flood. The economy is a big factor. But I also think people are staying at home more because of HD TV. I don’t own an HD TV, and I am thinking about buying an HD TV and not coming to the games. It’s more convenient and economical.”

All those concerns and more are very much on the front burners of the NFL and Titans, in particular. Both groups understand that times are changing when it comes to fan expectations for the complete experience of attending a game.

“We have tried to do everything we can to enhance the fan’s experience, make it easier to get to games and do the things that we are trying to work on and improve each and every year,” MacLachlan said. “We have really gotten a good feel on our season ticket base in terms of what they expect and changes that they want to see.

“We have been very, very fortunate with the support that we have gotten from our season-ticket holders. Now, we just have to move our single-season tickets.”

After opening the season at Pittsburgh (Sept. 8) and AFC South rival Houston on Sept. 15, Tennessee comes home for three straight games against the San Diego Chargers on Sept. 22, New York Jets on Sept. 29 and Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 6.

Marquee home games include the aforementioned 49ers on Oct. 20, the Indianapolis Colts for a Thursday prime-time showcase (Nov. 14) and the Texans to close the regular season on Dec. 29. Other home tilts include the Jacksonville Jaguars on Nov. 10 and Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 15.

“Oh, well, that’s a good question,” Cline said in response to being asked what he thought the Titans will do this season as they try to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season.

“I am hoping, like I have done the last two or three years, that we get to the playoffs,” he added. “The last few years have been rough.”