This week, the Athletic Department announced a need-based ticketing system for students of lower socioeconomic status. In order to receive need-based pricing, students must qualify for Federal Pell Grants. Given how ingrained athletics are into the University’s identity, this is an effort worth commending, as it allows more students to expand their extracurricular experiences.
Last fall, the Athletic Department revealed a roughly 38 percent decrease in student football season ticket prices from $280 last season to $175. Basketball season tickets will be $200 and hockey will be $150. For those who qualify for the need-based ticket prices, tickets will be reduced to $100, $120 and $90, respectively. According to Central Student Government President Bobby Dishell, a Public Policy senior who pitched the idea, this is the first need-based ticketing program in collegiate athletics.
There is no denying the role of athletics in the University’s culture. As Dishell remarked, “Michigan athletics, it’s something you see so many people rally around.” Therefore, it should be the priority of the University administration and Athletic Department to reach as many students as possible. Implementing need-based ticketing is a praiseworthy first step.
That said, the Athletic Department should turn its focus to improving more areas of the athletic experience for non-athletes. With the lowering of overall ticket prices, combined with the new need-based ticketing system, football, basketball and hockey will likely see an influx of students into an already-filled student section. It must be ensured that students will be able to fit reasonably without instituting controversial seating policies. Solutions include expanding the size of the student sections in both Michigan Stadium and the Crisler Center. Additionally, along with the included T-shirt in the ticket package, the Athletic Department should consider a student discount at M-Den locations to bolster school spirit.
Taking the initiative and making more reasonably priced tickets available to students receiving Pell Grants is an innovative and much-needed program. It is another step to improving the relationship between students and athletics, one that became strained during the era of former Athletic Director Dave Brandon. The Athletic Department should keep working on programs to reinforce student support for the present and the future.