Another year, another price increase, another drop in student season ticket holders.
For the second straight season, fewer students will be filing into Michigan Stadium each Saturday as just 16,500 students bought season tickets this season instead of the approximately 19,000 students who bought tickets last season.
The drop comes after it was announced that students would be required to show their M-Cards before entering Michigan Stadium this year.
Before this season, students could scalp their tickets or sell them on EBay, taking advantage of the $17.50 to $43 price difference that students get in comparison to the public. But now students will have to pay $25 to validate their tickets in order for someone from the general public to be able to use them.
Director of Ticket Operations Marty Bodnar believes that the new ID policy had something to do with the price drop, but that it was not the sole reason for the decline.
“If you look at it long term, there are a variety of reasons why students want or don’t want tickets,” Bodnar said. “To say it’s just because of the ID policy, you really can’t sit there and say that because we haven’t done any market research or anything like that.”
The new ID and validation policy was announced in March, after members of the athletic department met with the Michigan Student Assembly to discuss the amount of student tickets sold to the public. The athletic department considered placing a student ticket cap of 20,000, but according to Bodnar students felt that they would rather have the ID system in place instead of a cap.
Both Penn State and Wisconsin have student ticket caps of 21,000 and 13,000 respectively, but Ohio State does not. Penn State gives students tickets on a first-come, first-serve basis, while Wisconsin has a lottery system.
Students should not expect long lines in front of Michigan Stadium though as Gate 10 – the gate most students use – has been expanded by 50 percent to accommodate the ID checking. But the expansion of Gate 10 does not mean that students cannot enter the stadium at any gate.
As many as 23,000 students have purchased season tickets since the Wolverines won their last championship in 1997, but the amount of student season ticket sales has gone down over the past two years. The amount of student season ticket holders began to decline after student prices increased from $13.50 per game to $17.50 per game last season to $18.50 per game for this season.
Although student prices have increased $5 over the past two years, Michigan’s prices are comparable with its rivals. Ohio State students pay $21 a game while Illinois students pay $11 dollars a game. Because of the decline in student ticket sales, the athletic department is now offering three-game ticket packages for the public with the tickets not to be used by either the student and 73,400 public season ticket holders. The Maize package, which includes games against Washington, Utah and Iowa, costs $143 while the Blue package, which includes games against Western Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin, costs $138. Although no official numbers were available, Bodnar said sales for the packages were going “very well.”
Right now there are no plans to increase the number of public season ticket holders – there are currently 6,000 people waiting for season tickets – as the athletic department wants to make sure that all students who want tickets are able to purchase them.
“We want to give our best efforts to get every student a season ticket,” Bodnar said. “But as it drops off, like its dropped off now, we don’t know what the next year will bring or the next two or three years. So we have to be very careful in terms of turning seats into season tickets. If we turn over a bunch of them into season tickets and it’s back up to 21, 22, 23,000, what do you do?”