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October 14, 2004

‘Voluntary’ Donations Assure Prime Seats

FROM HAPPY VALLEY comes word of the “rationalizing” of football ticketing.

Penn State, like 23 of the Top 25 schools in the USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll, requires at least some of its season ticket holders to donate money.

Although Clemson University premiered the idea way back in the 1930s, Penn State did not tie ticket sales to donations until 1971.

The system has evolved such that only Nittany Lion Club members are now eligible to become new season ticket holders.

Even though several expansions have grown the massive Beaver Stadium to more than 107,000 seats, and even though the won-lost records have not been so great, football tickets are in high demand.

The numbers:

• 80% (58,000) of the tickets available to the general public are reserved for the 19,000 Nittany Lion Club memberships.

• A single membership can buy up to 14 tickets ($5000 provides eligibility for 14 seats).

• Once a person becomes a club member and has received seats, he can score better seats by earning points.

• The amount of money donated is the most common method to accumulate points. Every $50 donated scores one point.

• Penn State's ticket turnover rate is about 2000 tickets a year.

• Nittany Lion Club donations will yield about $9 million this year. Most of this will be spent on “athletic-related student aid” (what most of us call scholarships).

Some long-time (four and five decades) season ticket holders have been squeezed out of their prime seats due to an unwillingness or inability to pony up the substantial “donation” funds necessary to accumulate sufficient points.

Consequently, there have occurred some sad stories wherein loyal season ticket holders of long standing have been shunted aside.

However, one long-time fan stated the sentiment acknowledged by most of the Nittany Lion faithful, "Penn State makes enough money to run the athletic department, and people are willing to pay it. If the market can bear it, Penn State will charge it."

Donate, or watch on TV.


(this 332 word excerpt—with accompanying commentary—was extracted from a 1268 word article from the Harrisburg Patriot-News of 10-10-04)