BATON ROUGE, La. — Raising money for baseball programs can take many different avenues.
For years, LSU has led the nation in average and total college baseball attendance.
During the past season, LSU attracted 364,700 fans over 34 dates for an average of 10,726 per game.
In 2014, the Tigers saw 424,321 file through the turnstiles. In 39 dates, the average game attendance was 10,880.
During the 2014 season, it was reported that ticket sales eclipsed $2.6 million.
Beyond what huge crowds bring in to LSU, Head Baseball Coach Paul Mainieri said he has a separate account which the baseball program utilizes.
“We actually call it our Coaches’ Committee,” said Mainieri.
“The concept started when Skip Bertman came to LSU. He started with a small group of seven. Essentially, they were an inner circle for Skip and helped him do various things.
“For example, a lot of it was bartering or gift in kind. If a new outfield fence was needed, there was a member on his Coaches’ Committee who was from a fencing company. His company would put up a new fence for him.
“As the committee started to grow, dues were paid. Now, we have gotten to the point where the Coaches’ Committee isn’t an intimate little group any more. It includes about 250 people. Those people all pay different levels of annual dues ranging from $300 at the lowest level to $750 on the next level to $1,500 on our high end.
“When you do the math, it’s quite a bit of money that these people are putting into our program. It allows us to do certain things that we wouldn’t be able to do even with a pretty nice budget at LSU. It allows us to have plenty of baseballs so we can hit with new baseballs during batting practice.
“If we need a pitching machine or whatever it may be, it is a great fund to have for those kinds of things. Whenever we spend money from that fund, we must go through the proper purchasing procedure protocol which ultimately has the approval of our athletics director.”
Mainieri talked about another revenue stream for his program.
“After we won the national title in 2009, we had several great events for LSU fans across the state which they promoted as An Evening With The Coach. I would bring the national championship trophy, and we would have pictures taken with the trophy, the donor and myself. Some of those nights, we would take in as much as $20,000 from donations to the baseball program.
“A couple hundred people would come to the event, and they would pay a fee to have dinner. The host family would provide the catering and so forth. So there would be no overhead for us. Then I would give a talk with a few stories.
“When I did three or four of those events during the course of the summer, it turned into a nice windfall for our baseball program.”
Mainieri, who was the head coach at Notre Dame prior to LSU, said that when he got to the school, the Fighting Irish typically had 50-100 fans a game. That was it.
He wasn’t allowed to raise any money in the traditional sense because Notre Dame has a special group of people who do this for the entire university.
Mainieri was able to have a pre-season dinner which changed the way people perceived his program in the area.
“A few years into my tenure there, the associate athletic director Bill Scholl (now the Athletics’ Director at Marquette) and I sat down and thought up ways to create more interest in the baseball program at Notre Dame.
“We decided to have a pre-season dinner to promote the upcoming season in the middle of February. We didn’t play a home game until April which was 20 games into the season. So we thought this would be a good time to have it.