A look at the results of new free freshman football ticket policy

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Kore Chan/File

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There are several sights to behold and activities for students to immerse themselves in during their first year at UC Berkeley, but one of the most exciting for many is attending a Cal football game at Memorial Stadium during the fall semester.

This year, freshman and junior transfer students will once again have the opportunity to watch the Bears improve their chances at becoming bowl eligible, thanks to the first-year free ticket program. The initiative, started last year, was originally intended to motivate specifically freshmen to attend home football games, but feedback from the student senate later expanded the program to include junior transfers last year.

It seems that the free ticket program proved to be well-received, as 5,264 free tickets were distributed, according to Herb Benenson, assistant athletic director. That puts the number of free tickets distributed at 1,233 above the total number sold that year.

Ashwin Puri, associate athletic director, called student attendance at games “good and strong” last year, although he noted that it dropped at the Brigham Young University game over Thanksgiving break.

Ticket sales have declined in the last couple of years, with 6,623 sold in 2012, 5,727 sold in 2013 and 4,031 sold in 2014, the inaugural year of the free ticket program.

According to Puri, the free ticket program was implemented as a way to help build strong relationships with the student body and improve live attendance at game days.

“Nationwide, you’re seeing a trend where student attendance is down, even (for) some of the top programs that win all the time,” Puri said. “It’s not isolated to us, regardless of wins and losses. Our goal here with adjusting the student market and student programming was to increase student attendance however we could.”

Manny Flores is the assistant sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @manny_0.