By Greg Garno, Daily Sports Editor
Published April 22, 2013
For some students, it may be time to put the red Solo Cup down earlier on football Saturdays and head to the Big House.
Monday, the Athletic Department announced that it will no longer assign seats to student ticket holders, instead opting to have student seating as general admission. In an announcement on the its website, the Athletic Department will give students general-admission tickets on a first-come, first-serve basis as an incentive to arrive prior to kickoff.
Ticket prices will be $295 for seven home games, or more than $40 a ticket per game. For the 2012 season, students paid $205 for six home games — just over $34 per game. The new cost is 40-percent less than the general public season ticket price and doesn’t include a required preferred season donation.
According to the associate athletic director, Dave Ablauf, the average number of “no shows” per game was 5,434 in 2012 and 4,376 in 2011.
“We are concerned about the decrease in students showing up and decided to change our policy to create a culture of arriving early to provide our football student-athletes with a home field advantage prior to kickoff,” Ablauf said. “This move is similar to what has already been done at Crisler Center and Yost Ice Arena for student season ticket holders. Both are decisions that have been met favorably.”
Ablauf noted that the attendance policy is similar to fellow Big Ten teams including Michigan State University and Pennsylvania State University, as well as national programs like Alabama, Notre Dame and Oregon.
In 2012, the athletic department created the H.A.I.L. mobile application to incentivize attendance at athletic events, including getting to the Big House on time.
A group of students has already voiced their displeasure about the announcement via Facebook. The group had more than 1,500 likes in less than three hours since its creation.
“The goal of the page was to raise awareness and gather enough followers to voice our displeasure though petitions, in hopes of overturning the new policy,” said LSA junior Josh Spiegel. “We feel the policy destroys the tradition of working your way closer to the field through years of studying and work.”
Central Student Government president Michael Proppe, an LSA and business junior, has already taken action to discuss the newly implemented changes.
“Why didn’t the Athletic Department ask for any student input before implementing this?” Proppe said. “In my first resolution as student body president, co-authored by Bobby Dishell and Annie Pidgeon, I am calling for U-M Central Student Government input on any ticketing policy changes made by the Athletic Department.”
In a non-scientific Facebook poll conducted by the Daily, 497 people chose the "Hate it" option when asked their stance on the new policy, as of 12:30 a.m. Tuesday. Eighty-five people said they love it, 36 said they dislike it but understand the move and 25 voters remained indifferent.
The Wolverines open their season against Central Michigan on Aug. 31 before they host Notre Dame for its second-ever night game.