About Us Contact Us Privacy Policy Terms of Use
Best Quotes
Guest Commentary
Who Am I?
Monthly Archives

August 28, 2004

Schools Turn To Premium Seating Donations For Revenue Generation

FROM THE PRESSURES AND OPPORTUNITIES OF THE ARMS RACE comes word of a dizzying succession of supplemental revenue schemes that up the ante—and the take—for not only football and men's basketball programs, but women’s basketball, baseball and ice hockey as well.

An offshoot of the arms race, which includes 8% increases in D1 athletics programs each year, plus huge capital projects for new / renovated athletics facilities, and jumbo salaries for marquee coaches, the various premium seating payment plans vie with one another in creativity, boldness and insensitivity.

Upwards of 70-80% of all D1 schools have implemented some sort of supplemental revenue program. Usually the program involves mandating a donation over and above the cost of season tickets. Ticket holders who refuse to make the donation usually get less desirable seats.

Tops in the boldness (read: profitability) department could be Michigan, which has required fans to donate between $125 to $500 to keep their seats between the end zones. These mandated “contributions” will net $9.5 million for Michigan annually.

Other noteworthy supplemental funding programs:

Southern California
All seats between end zones require minimum $100 donation. Midfield seats require annual membership in Scholarship Club (cost: $25,000)

Program is expanding this year from 19,000 season tickets to 61,000. Contributions range from $85 to $400.

All season ticket holders must contribute at least $200.

Miami (Fla.)
Seats in lower bowl require a donation from $150 to $15,000.

Florida State
About two-thirds of season tickets require a donation from $125 to $5,500 a seat.

Ohio State
About 2600 seats require annual donations, between $2500 and $3000.

West Virginia
About 60% of season ticket base require a minimum annual contribution of $150 or $300 a seat.

Season ticket holders must make an annual donation of $300 to $500.

Previously grandfathered ticket holders will have to pay $500 to $1500 a seat annually to keep their tickets between end zones.

Seats between 40-yard lines require annual donation of $300 a seat; seats between 25- and 40-yard lines require $150 donation.

Meanwhile, in the insensitivity department, there’s the case of Curt Watson, an all-Southeastern Conference fullback for Tennessee from 1969 to '71, and a season ticket holder since 1983.

Last spring Tennessee's athletics department informed him that to keep his seats spitting distance from the 50-yard line, he'd have to “donate” (aren’t donations supposed to be voluntary?) $1000 per seat each year, on top of the price of his tickets.

Watson was among more than 1000 season ticket holders who were originally told, when Tennessee created the scholarship fund in 1986, that they could keep their seats as long as they renewed their season tickets.

"They're saying to those 1023 people, 'We made this promise to you but we need money now, so we're going to renege on our word,' " Watson says.”If that's the way they're going to run the program, and the almighty dollar is that important, I'm going cold turkey. I'm quitting Tennessee football altogether."

Nice way to treat one of your former stars.

(this 507 word excerpt, with attendant commentary, was extruded from a 3007 word article from USA Today of 8-25-04)