Staff Reports

Knoxville, Tenn., and the University of Tennessee have been named the winner of the First/Second Round of the 2010 NCAA “Pack the House Host Challenge” for attendance during the 2010 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship. Sacramento, Calif., was the NCAA Regional winner.
The post-season “Pack the House Host Challenge” is an extension of the successful regular season program that has been conducted since 2007. The two initiatives combined to draw more than 600,000 fans to women’s basketball games this season. The goal of the program was to help schools grow the game at a grassroots level with increased attendance and exposure of the championship experience for fans across the country.
The NCAA program included all 16 first- and second-round sites competing against each other from March 20-23, while the four regional sites competed from March 27-29.
Knoxville (first- and second-rounds) and Sacramento (regional round) won the competition based on having the highest percentage of seating capacity filled and the most tickets sold by Selection Monday, March 15. Both hosting institutions, the University of Tennessee and the University of the Pacific, will receive incentive awards, and the NCAA will provide a donation, in the name of each institution, to the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund.
Knoxville posted an attendance of 20,944 fans for the first- and second-round games played at Thompson-Boling Arena on the UT campus. The percentage of capacity in Knoxville was 86 percent for both sessions with 89.8 percent of seats filled for the “Pack the House Host Challenge” day.
To help increase attendance, Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt was involved in a promotional video in which she encouraged fans and supporters of women’s basketball to support the games at their site. Tennessee also engaged fans through radio broadcasts, which featured live appearances by Summitt and members of the Tennessee women’s basketball coaching staff during the months of February and March. Tennessee also sent postcards to their basketball camp and ticket databases. Full page flyers and buck slips were distributed to fans who purchased regular-season tickets, while regional newspapers ran advertisements promoting the championship via trade-out agreements. In addition, promotional banners, billboard space, television ads and a dedicated website provided messaging that encouraged fans to support the championship event.
“We are thrilled to receive this honor and appreciate the good work of our marketing staff, but we must note that we have the best women’s basketball fans in the country residing in and around Knoxville, Tennessee, which makes all of our jobs easier,” said Donna Thomas, senior associate athletic director at UT and tournament manager in Knoxville. “This combined with Coach Summitt’s tireless efforts in spreading our messaging was very important to our success.”