By Amabel Karoub, Daily Staff Reporter
Published August 12, 2014
The University is expected to sell 8,000 fewer football season ticket packages this season, and after a year marked by a contentious general admissions seating policy, the Athletic Department is reaching out to the student body for feedback on ticketing policies and other policies related to the student section.
Through Friday evening, undergraduate and graduate students were invited to apply to take part in the newly created Football Student Advisory Council, a committee whose members will attend football games throughout the season and give feedback to the department on the student experience. Only current season ticket holders were eligible to apply.
Last year, the Athletic Department collaborated with Central Student Government members to create the seating policy that will replace last year’s unpopular general admission system. The new policy will reward loyal fans with better seating based on a points system, as opposed to the first-come first-served policy introduced last year.
Now, following the formation of this group, students beyond CSG will also have a direct say in future adjustments to the game day experience.
Sasha Shaffer, marketing assistant for the Athletic Department, and Hunter Lochmann, senior associate athletic director, will head the council. More than 100 students applied for the council. Of these students, only 20 students — four from each undergraduate class, and four graduate — will be chosen. Shaffer said they are looking to create a microcosm of the student body.
“We want people that are die-hard fans that have been going since they were 6 years old, to people who are coming as freshman who have never been to a game before,” she said. “We want a little bit of everything.”
However, there have been several concerns raised about the ability of the committee to represent the student body, especially given that all applicants must be season ticket-holders.
In a press release CSG president Bobby Dishell urged students to apply to the council, but also expressed that a complete representation of the student body is unlikely. He wrote in an an email interview that there were several qualities a non-season ticket holder could bring to the council.
“Non-season ticket holders may focus more on things such as wait times, frequency of water available, give-aways and their effectiveness, etc.,” Dishell wrote. “They do not regularly attend games so these parts of their experience may have a greater effect.”
Increased student involvement in game day, by some metrics, may have come too late — at least for this year. Season ticket sales have decreased from about 20,000 packages in 2013 to an expected 12,000 this year, according to data from the Athletic Department. The drop could be the effect of a number of factors, most notably negative experiences with last year’s seating policy, or price.
To combat the declining number of ticket sales, the Athletic Department has also begun to sell individual tickets to games, a decision Shaffer said she thinks will aid in bringing up attendance.
“If I was a student I would like individual ticket sales,” she said. “Students always want to bring friends and family, so I think it will help.”
Correction appended: A previous version of this article misstated the change in ticket prices for the 2014 season. Prices will remain the same.