V V V
For GA policy,
a costly success
By ZACH HELFAND
Daily Sports Editor
On Nov. 16 of last year, the
Michigan Athletic Department
sent an email to students with the
subject line including: "Seriously,
Remember to Set Your Alarm." It
was a reminder for Senior Day.
In comparison to its typical
messages, filled with light-hearted
puns or practical information, this
email seemed almost agitated. The
message featured a photograph
of a sparsely populated student
section with the caption "HOME-
The week before, the Wolver-
ines.beat Northwestern in a thrill-
ing overtime game, and nearly a
third of the student section never
showed up. This was becoming
an irritating trend. The Athletic
Department wanted to change that
for the following week, Senior Day
But during the pregame cer-
emonies for that game, only a tiny
fraction of the student section dot-
ted the bleachers, though more
students eventually showed up.
It would be the last game under
Michigan's long-standing policy
of reserved seating, with the best
seats awarded by credit hours
accumulated. Seniors typically sat
in the front.
The Athletic Department had
tried outreach and a new loyalty
program, the HAI. application,
but nothing worked. It was ready
for a new approach.
"We did a study to find out what
other schools are charging for
student tickets, because maybe
we're too low," Athletic Direc-
tor Dave Brandon told AnnArbor.
com in July. "Maybe one of the
reasons students aren't showing
up is because they feel like they
haven't made enough of a signifi-
cant investment in the ticket."
Analysis by The Michigan Daily,
which compiled data on student-
ticket prices and policies at all 129
FBS or soon-to-be FBS programs,
shows how far Michigan went to
correct its prices.
Coming off an 8-5 season, Mich-
igan unveiled a new pricing model
in April that, at the time, made it
the most expensive student foot-
ball ticket in the nation. The price
of a season ticket increased to $295
for seven games in 2013, includ-
ing service fees, from $205 for six
games in 2012.
For an average price of $42.14,
students get a night game against
Notre Dame, and home games
against Nebraska and Ohio State.
In August, Oregon knocked
off Michigan to become the most
expensive ticket at $360, though it
offers nearly 4,000 of its roughly
5,000-seat student section in a
game-by-game lottery for free.
The second part of the Ath-
letic Department's plan proved to
be more controversial. Reserved
seating was out. General admis-
sion seating was in. Early arrivers
would get wristbands granting
access to the first 22 rows. All oth-
ers would be assigned to a section
when they arrived.
Central Student Government
President Michael Proppe, a Busi-
ness senior, learned of the policy
change like everyone else: through
an April 23 email. The Athletic
Department, he said, hadn't con-
sulted with CSG or any other stu-
"There wasn't buy-in from the
students," Proppe said. "It was just
kind of being handed down, here's
the new policy, like it or leave it."
Within three hours of the
announcement of the new policy,
the Facebook group "UMich Stu-
dents to Reverse the New Football
Ticket Policy" had more than 1,500
'likes.' An online petition through
CSG gained more than 2,600 sig-
natures in less than 24 hours.
Students, mostly juniors and
seniors, felt cheated. They had sat
high up in Michigan Stadium, they
argued, for the chance to get to the
best rows as upperclassmen. Now
that opportunity was gone.
In response, CSG itself passed
two resolutions: one officially
opposing the general-admission
policy, and one calling for more
student input on future decisions.
Some prospective ticket-holders
had recently attended the NCAA
men's basketball Final Four in
Atlanta, where the NCAA-run
student ticketing process required
hours of queuing in a Georgia
Dome holding center. There, stu-
dents lined up five hours prior to
the game in a dark, concrete room.
Though Michigan gave the best
See POLICY, Page 6
Dynamic, and for some, prohibitive
AVERAGE TICKET PRICE PER CONFERENCE
By EVERETT COOK
Daily Sports Editor
It's July 2013. You're a couple
years out of school, old enough
to be making money but not old
enough to be making a lot of it.
Maybe you remember the 2011
Under the Lights game and want
to experience that for yourself
this year in what could be the
last Michigan-Notre Dame game
in the Big House for the foresee-
able future. You've got a group of
There's only one problem: aver-
age tickets for Under the Lights II
are running at about $300 each.
Good seats are close to $500. The
best seats might cost you $1000.
In the past, single-game tickets
could be bought through the Ath-
letic Department for face value.
There was always high demand for
big games, but seats could be had if
you were familiar with the system.
This year would be different.
There was outrage when the
Athletic Department announced
that single-game tickets for the
2013 football season would be
using a new dynamic pricing sys-
tem, meaning that per-ticket pric-
es fluctuated depending on the
game. Groups of alumni felt like
the University was tryingto siphon
as much money as possible off the
bottom line, at the expense of for-
But what's the better way to do
it? If the Athletic Department con-
tinues to sell tickets at face value,
they are basically giving money
away to a secondary ticket mar-
ket. In years past, people would
buy tickets from Michigan and sell
them on sites like StubHub.com or
ticketmaster.com for two or three
times more than they bought them
This year, Mark Bonges, a 2004
alumnus who is on the depart-
ment's email list, got on the Ath-
letic Department's website to find
that the cheapest tickets available
cost $450. They were well out of
his price range, but tickets in the
same section were selling for a lot
more on StubHub. He bought from
the Athletic Department, think-
ing that someone in his group of
friends would want these "cheap-
He didn't want to scalp the tick-
ets, but still ended up making $500
on the secondary market, because
here's the problem: regardless of
whom the money is going to, right
now, there are enough people will-
ing to spend an ungodly amount of
money to go to a premium Michi-
gan football game. It's just amatter
of where the money is going.
Should the Athletic Department
try to capitalize on that?
"It makes a lot of economic
sense, but the fallout could be if
the alumni don't see it as fair and
if that affects the alum's relation-
ship with the school," said Tammy
Feldman, a University economics
professor. "Will they donate less?
Will they go to fewer games? What
does it do to the relationship with
alums? The bottom line is that
most people don't like change."
See DYNAMIC, Page 6
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