Athletic Department to lower student-ticket prices by nearly 40 percent for 2015 football season

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By Alejandro Zúñiga, Managing Sports Editor
and Greg Garno, Managing Sports Editor
Published October 23, 2014

The Michigan football team has a much stronger home schedule next season than it does this fall. And it’ll cost students a lot less to see the Wolverines play.

The Athletic Department, in conjunction with the Central Student Government, announced Thursday it will lower student season ticket prices to $175 for next year’s seven-game home slate. At an average of $25 per game, the price decrease is a 37.5-percent change from this year’s cost of $280 for the season.

“We listen,” Athletic Director Dave Brandon told The Michigan Daily Thursday afternoon. “We’ve been listening. … We really learned that two really important components to re-engaging with our students in trying to create a more robust, more enthusiastic and larger student section for next year’s football season was price and strength of schedule.

“A nearly 40-percent reduction in ticket prices is, I think it’s fair to say, unprecedented.”

The new plan, which incorporated feedback from a CSG-conducted survey of University students, will also implement a new reduced-pricing structure for students with financial need.

The Athletic Department will charge a $10 processing fee for student-ticket purchases, down from $15 in 2013, and a custom T-shirt comes included in the package.

The department also announced that season ticket prices will remain the same for non-students for the third consecutive year.

“It’s been great working together,” said CSG President Bobby Dishell, a Public Policy senior, in an interview with the Daily. “We realized that the University takes need into account when you’re coming here, so your experiences here should also take that into account.”

Dishell announced his partnership with the Athletic Department to reduce ticket prices at a meeting of the University’s Board of Regents Oct. 16.

The number of student ticket sales dropped from about 19,000 in 2013 to about 12,000 in 2014, creating a noticeably smaller student section.

As has been the policy in previous years, the Athletic Department will sell season ticket packages to every student who requests one for the upcoming season. Citing the lower prices and a home schedule that includes games against Ohio State and Michigan State, Hunter Lochmann, Athletic Department chief marketing officer, said he hopes the student section will rebound to between 18,000 and 20,000 people next fall.

“The wrestling about this issue started when we got 12,000 student tickets sold for this season, and we saw that significant dropoff from the previous year,” Brandon said. “Clearly, that was a strong message to us that, ‘Hey, something is amiss that we need to address.’ ”

Student seating will be assigned based on attendance at this season’s games, as was announced this spring. The policy rewards students who attend at least six games this fall and arrive more than 20 minutes before kickoff with better seats in 2015. The policy change comes after a shift to a General Admission model prior to the 2013 season, which was met with uproar by the student body.

The remainder of the students will be organized based on class ranking.

Dishell said he and Brandon, along with Lochmann and CSG Vice President Emily Lustig, an LSA senior, have been in talks for the past “two or three weeks” about improving the student section.

Dishell, who originally developed the CSG survey, worked to add questions and feedback from Brandon before sending it out to students Oct. 10. According to Dishell, 5,802 individuals — roughly 12 percent of the student body — filled out the survey. And since then, the group has worked “night and day” to implement a new policy.

“This was strictly (in conjunction) with students,” Dishell said.

“This is really us being us. I don’t know of another school who’s lowering ticket prices 40 percent,” Brandon added.

The plan also plans to lower the ticket processing fee from $15 to $10 while including the T-shirt for students in the cost of the ticket package — a $15 value.

“Michigan football is such a core component (of the University experience) because there’s no other experience on campus that more students participate in at one time," Dishell said.

Clarification: A previous version of this article did not attribute the final quote to CSG President Bobby Dishell. It is now edited to clarify attribution.