The HokieCentral Money Survey
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com, 7/9/99

Wherein we endeavor to answer the question "What's HokieCentral worth to Virginia Tech?"

The numbers are in from the HokieCentral "Money Survey," and they reveal some interesting and sometimes surprising results. Without further ado, let's get to the results.


The Questions and Answers

I received 611 responses to my survey. The questions were divided into three categories:

  • A general question that is non-money related
  • Hokie Club/VTAF questions
  • Football season ticket questions

A GENERAL QUESTION

Has HokieCentral increased your interest and participation in Tech sports as a fan?
Yes, quite a bit: 350 (57.2%)
A little: 88 (14.4%)
Not really: 173 (28.4%)

HOKIE CLUB/VTAF QUESTIONS

Did you become a Hokie Club member or increase your Hokie Club donation after you started reading HokieCentral?
Yes: 260 (42.5%)
No: 351 (57.5%)

How much has your donation to the Hokie Club increased since you started reading HokieCentral?
Respondents were asked to enter a dollar figure here.

How much would you say HokieCentral is responsible for any increase in your donation level?
Possible Answers: 0, 25, 50, 75, or 100 percent

I took the answers to the last two questions and multiplied the dollar figures by the percentage that the person selected. I added up the results for everyone who answered "yes" to the first question to come up with a final dollar amount. This is a very simple method to determine how much money HC was "responsible" for contributors donating to the Hokie Club.

For example, if a person had increased their contribution to the VTAF by $100 since they started reading HokieCentral, and they said that HC was responsible for 50% of that money, then their contribution to the total was $50. I added up the results for all 260 people who said yes.

According to these methods and the responses, the total dollars that HokieCentral is responsible for flowing into the VTAF from contributors who were influenced by HokieCentral is $62,985.

I should point out that this result was heavily skewed by one person who said that their contribution to the VTAF had increased by $20,000, and that HC was 75% responsible for that. This contributes $15,000 to that figure alone! I have emailed this person to ask them if the $20000 figure was accurate, or if they left out a decimal point and really meant to say $200.00. I have received no reply.

Another respondent said that his Hokie Club donation had increased by $50,000 since he started reading HokieCentral. Alas, he attributed none of that to HokieCentral. Hmmph!

Did you visit www.HokieClub.com because you saw a link to it on HokieCentral?
Yes: 322 (52.7%)
No: 289 (47.3%)

Did you wind up joining the Hokie Club on-line at www.HokieClub.com because you followed a link to it from HokieCentral?
Yes: 59 (9.7%)
No: 552 (90.3%)

This is an interesting number. 59 people saw a link to the HokieClub.com web site on HokieCentral, clicked on the link, and eventually joined the Hokie Club via the HokieClub.com web site. A VTAF rep told me a month or two ago that about a hundred people had signed up via their web site. The HokieClub.com web site is just a few months old, and this survey reveals that if the numbers are accurate, then over half of the hundred or so people who signed up via the HokieClub.com web site found their way there via HokieCentral.

SEASON TICKETS

Did you start buying football season tickets or increase your season ticket purchases after you started reading HokieCentral?
Yes: 217 (35.5%)
No: 394 (64.5%)

How many more season tickets do you buy now since you started reading HokieCentral?
Respondents were asked to enter a number.

How much would you say HokieCentral is responsible for any increase in your season ticket purchases?
Possible Answers: 0, 25, 50, 75, or 100 percent

I took the answers to the last two questions and multiplied the season ticket numbers by the percentage that the person selected. Then I multiplied by the price of a season ticket, which is $138 this year. Note that I ignored the fact that some of those people may be faculty/staff, who get a reduced rate.

I added up the results for everyone who answered "yes" to the first question to come up with a final dollar amount. This is a very simple method to determine how much money HC was "responsible" for fans spending on season tickets.

For example, if a person had increased their season ticket purchases by two since they started reading HokieCentral, and they said that HC was responsible for 50% of that money, then their contribution to the total was one season ticket, or $138. I added up the results for all 217 people who said yes.

Using this method, I determined that the total dollars that HokieCentral is responsible for generating via season ticket sales is $36,363, which represents 263.5 season tickets.

Miscellaneous Sources of Cash that HokieCentral Provides to Virginia Tech

Everything thus far has been indirect money. What does HokieCentral provide for Virginia Tech in the way of cold hard cash? HokieCentral contributes to Virginia Tech in four ways:

  • Season ticket purchase
  • Hokie Club membership
  • The Hokie Brick Trail
  • Licensing royalties

Season tickets - HokieCentral purchases 2 season tickets, and at $138 per ticket, that's $276 total.

Hokie Club membership - HokieCentral donates $1 per member per year. This year's membership goal is 1,000 HC members, so I signed up HokieCentral to donate $1,000 this year via Hokie-matic checking account drafts of $83.33 per month.

For the record, HokieCentral has just under 500 members for the first half of 1999, so I'm on track to meet the goal of 1,000 members.

HokieCentral was also responsible for about $250 additional dollars going to the VTAF back in April. HokieCentral fans, readers, and members pitched in to buy a third-anniversary ad that ran in the Roanoke Times (which was very cool, thank you!), and the money that was left over after the ad was purchased was donated to the Hokie Club. The leftover amount was about $250.

So, in all, HC donated $1250 to the VTAF this year.

Hokie Brick trail - for $75, you can purchase a personalized brick in the Hokie Brick Trail outside Cassell Coliseum. I do this every year, and I have "HokieCentral Members 1997" or 1998, or 1999, etc., etched into the brick.

Licensing income - all HokieCentral merchandise is officially licensed Virginia Tech merchandise, which means that when I buy the merchandise from my supplier, I am charged a royalty fee that goes directly to Virginia Tech.

The royalty fee is assessed by my supplier as a percentage of my cost. They add the figure to my total charge each time I place an order with them. I pay them the money, and they transfer the money directly to Virginia Tech's Licensing Department.

This year, I estimate that I will pay about $2000 in royalty fees to Tech.

The interesting thing about licensing royalties is that the money does not go to the athletic department. It goes to the university as a whole, and I believe it is used primarily to fund scholarships.

I don't know the details, but I'm pretty sure that the athletic department at Tech doesn't see a dime of the licensing royalty income, which is odd, when you consider that a lot of licensing revenue is generated through sports apparel.

If anyone out there in the Tech Licensing Department is reading this and can drop me an email (will@hokiecentral.com) about how licensing income is distributed, and what it pays for, I would appreciate the information.

Total Miscellaneous Contributions (Season Tickets, VTAF membership, Hokie Brick Trail, and Licensing Royalties): $3601

The Bottom Line

First, let's recap the questions and answers:

Has HokieCentral increased your interest and participation in Tech sports as a fan?
Yes, quite a bit: 350 (57.2%)
A little: 88 (14.4%)
Not really: 173 (28.4%)

Did you become a Hokie Club member or increase your Hokie Club donation after you started reading HokieCentral?
Yes: 260 (42.5%)
No: 351 (57.5%)

How much has your donation to the Hokie Club increased since you started reading HokieCentral? How much would you say HokieCentral is responsible for any increase in your donation level?
Total contributions attributed to HokieCentral: $62,985.

Did you visit www.HokieClub.com because you saw a link to it on HokieCentral?
Yes: 322 (52.7%)
No: 289 (47.3%)

Did you wind up joining the Hokie Club on-line at www.HokieClub.com because you followed a link to it from HokieCentral?
Yes: 59 (9.7%)
No: 552 (90.3%)

Did you start buying football season tickets or increase your season ticket purchases after you started reading HokieCentral?
Yes: 217 (35.5%)
No: 394 (64.5%)

How many more season tickets do you buy now since you started reading HokieCentral? How much would you say HokieCentral is responsible for any increase in your season ticket purchases?
Total season ticket purchases attributed to HokieCentral: 263.5, which equals $36,363.


Total Income for Virginia Tech that can be attributed to HokieCentral
Hokie Club donations: $62,985
Season Ticket purchases: $36,363
Miscellaneous contributions: $3601

Total Money: $102,949

The Intangibles

Of course, HokieCentral benefits Virginia Tech and the athletic department in many other ways, by making it easier for far-away fans to follow Tech and be excited about Tech, and by contributing to the hysteria when things are going well at Tech.

I get emails all the time from Hokies in far-flung places who tell me that they moved far away from Blacksburg after graduation and lost interest in Tech sports, only to have their interest be rekindled when they went on the Internet and discovered HokieCentral.

As another example of how HC benefits Tech athletics, a number of people emailed me and chastised me for not trying to measure the income I had created for Tech via women's basketball. Many people told me that they wouldn't have cared at all about women's hoops if they hadn't followed it on HokieCentral, but HC spurred them to go to some games. Several people told me they made trips to Greensboro to see Tech play Tennessee in the Sweet 16 that they otherwise wouldn't have made, if HokieCentral hadn't whipped them into a frenzy.

Okay, it's true that in not asking about women's basketball, I may have missed some numbers here. But I took the approach that Hokie Club donations and football season tickets are the big-money generators, and I think the numbers here verify that.

In Conclusion

The figure of approximately $100,000 is a yearly, recurring figure, not just a one-time deal. I could run the same survey next year and measure the same thing next year, and I would probably come up with a similar figure.

Please remember that this was just a fun exercise, not a scientific measurement - not by any stretch of the imagination. The questions weren't structured very carefully, and I have no sort of background in statistics or how to measure these things.

Nonetheless, the $100,000 figure certainly isn't chump change, and it's gratifying to see the hard number and to know that it's attributable to HokieCentral, at least, according to you, the people who responded to the survey.

Thanks for taking the time to fill out the survey, and remember, next time someone asks you what HokieCentral is "worth" to the Virginia Tech athletic department, you can tell 'em, "Oh, about a hundred thousand dollars."

          

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