While the first three games of every University of Hawaiʻi football season are traditionally greeted with a large showing by students, according to UH Athletics Marketing Director Bradley Motooka, after homecoming, the student section resembles a lecture class a day after midterms.
In the beginning of the year tailgating, hanging out with friends, and enjoying the time with peers and faculty alike is the thing to do. Homecoming is an event that everyone can get excited about—then it ends. Data taken by the UH Athletics department shows that in the last four homecoming games, student attendance has averaged about 1,800 students. The games after homecoming have averaged about 360.
“(The San Jose State game on Nov. 9) was probably the lowest in the last couple years,” Motooka said.
Motooka, in an attempt to regain student interest, brought several initiatives into being. The Hawaii Rewards app allows students to check-in at events, earn points and win prizes. From sending out push-notifications to let students know about games, to making shirts for giveaways and lowering ticket prices for guests by 50%.
But the effort does not seem to be enough for the students.
“I feel like someone wouldn’t go with the hopes of a reward, that’s just a bonus. Most people would go if they thought it was gonna be a good time,” Caleb Rigsby, a University of Hawai'i student, said.
Motooka wants to engage with students to increase attendance to support the team.
“We need the crowd, the atmosphere. They add in a little bit more of the rowdiness to it,” he said.
When the Rainbow Warriors faced off against Arizona on Aug. 24, the rival team had a delay of game and two false starts in a row because the crowd made so much noise that they couldn’t hear themselves, according to Motooka. The nail-biting match ended in a 45-38 win for the Rainbow Warriors.
For tonight’s last home game, UH Athletics is giving away a black Rainbow Warrior shirt if students go to the student tailgate and check-in on the Hawaii Rewards app. There are also shuttle rides to and from campus. Students can board the bus by showing their UH Mānoa student ID. A valid student ID is also needed to enter Aloha Stadium and to sit in the student section. Enter the stadium through Gate 1.
Buses depart at 5 p.m. from Lower Campus on Kalele Road near the football and soccer practice fields. Buses will return to campus after each bus is filled up after the game. Drop off is near Frear Hall by the intersection of Dole Street and East-West Road.
The ‘Bows will face Army for senior night. Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m.