Switch to semesters causing ticket tussle
Published: Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2012 00:06
The switch to semesters in 2012 has students, faculty and staff, alumni and the Athletic Department grappling over football tickets.
On Tuesday, the Athletic Council, a subcommittee of the University Senate, discussed competing proposals on how best to allocate tickets starting with the 2012 season.
After the switch, the autumn term will begin much earlier, meaning students will be on campus for more football games, and they want more tickets set aside for these games.
Alumni want to keep at least the number of tickets they have now, but want them more spread out throughout the season. Under the plan now, most alumni tickets are concentrated in the early games.
Faculty and staff generally want to preserve their current share of seats.
The Athletic Department just wants to make sure it doesn't lose money by allocating more cheap tickets for students.
"Reallocation is a zero-sum game," said Karen Mancl, a professor of food, agricultural and biological engineering and the chair of the Finance and Facilities subcommittee.
Changes in the number of tickets for one group affect every group, as well as the amount of money generated, she said.
In January, student representatives on the Athletic Council, with the input of student government leaders, presented a proposal to the subcommittee that would give students more tickets for the early non-conference games. The tickets would add 20,000 to the total number of student tickets by taking them away from the faculty and staff category.
Last week, the students sent a letter to President E. Gordon Gee, director of athletics Gene Smith and chair of the Athletic Council Sharon West.
The letter bemoaned the lack of a discussion about "an equitable distribution" of tickets.
"Rather, those constituencies with a voting majority have managed to advance proposals without rationalizing how the distribution fits with our committee's charge," the letter said.
Students on the council said the subcommittee has not put forward detailed proposals, only charts and graphs that do not explain the rationale for shifting tickets.
"The biggest concern is that the proposals are not proposals. They're charts proposed by faculty members," said Micah Kamrass, a third-year student member of the Athletic Council.
Meghan Slanina, a professional veterinary medicine student and the vice president of the Inter-Professional Council, said the proposal and the letter gave students a voice in the discussions.
"This is how we think the process should go. We want to see things written down. We want to see people come to the table and have a discussion," Slanina said.
The subcommittee has discussed six options but has not decided on any.
Under the student plan, student tickets for the Big 10 games would stay the same at 30,000 available student tickets per game. But they want to increase the tickets for early non-conference games from 5,000 to 15,000.
"We think it's really important when [students] get to campus to immerse themselves in the game-day experience," Slanina said.
However, greater numbers of discounted student tickets would likely lead to a deficit of at least $240,000, said Peter Koltak, a fourth-year in journalism and a student representative on the council, who is also a Lantern reporter.
To make up for that gap, the students have proposed that the spouses of faculty, staff and married students be required to pay full price for their tickets. Currently, those tickets are subsidized.
Holly Cush, who represents the Alumni Association on the Athletic Council, said alumni would like their tickets to be spread out across the football season.
To make more tickets available for alumni, the Alumni Association has proposed ending full season ticket packages for faculty and staff in favor of splits only.
According to the Finance and Facilities subcommittee, 70 percent of faculty and staff tickets are upgraded. Faculty and staff can re-sell their tickets if they pay the ticket office the difference between a reduced faculty rate and full price.
"There is some thought that maybe not everybody who's getting the tickets through those channel are really using them," Cush said.
In addition, there is some confusion as to who is considered faculty and staff.
It turns out that retirees are included in that category, and according to a report by Mancl, 23 percent of faculty and staff tickets are purchased by the retired.
Faculty and staff, students and alumni agree that reallocating football tickets is difficult.
The urgency to quickly develop proposals led to "a lack of a shared goal," Mancl said, and each group has advocated for their own interests.
But Kamrass said the faculty members of the council had "so far not been willing to compromise."
Of all six proposals discussed by the committee, none would shift tickets away from faculty and staff.
One of the proposals suggested student tickets be divided between full season and a split season.
Mancl said this proposal, Option B, attempted to meet the needs of all groups the best, but that it would require "creative" ticket packaging in order to not lose money.
Slanina said students were not happy about this proposal, in part because they want to keep at least 30,000 student seats at Big Ten games.
"As you can see, this is an ongoing process," said Sharon West, chair of the Athletic Council, before tabling the discussion.
The subcommittee will continue to discuss the proposals on March 15 before the full Athletic Council votes, which could be as early as April 6.