Less than a year after modifying its policy for student football seating, the Athletic Department will change the way in which men’s basketball tickets are distributed.
At a Central Student Government assembly meeting Tuesday night, Chief Marketing Officer Hunter Lochmann announced a new system, effective immediately, in which students who purchased season tickets will have to individually claim games they plan to attend. He said the move will help improve the atmosphere at Crisler Center, which was often not filled to capacity last season during games.
“We want Crisler full,” Lochmann said. “We want a loud arena.”
According to Lochmann, an average of 46.1 percent of student tickets were used per game in 2012-13, well under the Big Ten average of 67 percent. This season, 4,500 tickets were sold — an all-time high — despite there being just 3,000 seats allotted for students. If seats go unclaimed by students, they will be made available to the general public.
Under the new system, Michigan’s 17 home fixtures will be split into six different pods of three or four games each. A couple of weeks before each pod’s contests, tickets will become available online for a 72-hour period. Students can then select which games they plan to attend, and the ticket will then be electronically transferred to the student’s MCard where it can be used or sold.
“The only con is not every student is guaranteed a seat,” Lochmann said. “But I think — we don’t know this — that if you want to go to every game, you’re going to go to every game.”
On social media, many students reacted negatively to the news. Some pointed the finger at Athletic Director Dave Brandon. Others, including Central Student Government President Michael Proppe, voiced support for the change.
The first online claim period will open Oct. 8, and the Wolverines’ first home exhibition tips off on Oct. 29.
However, if a student twice claims tickets that he or she does not use, he will not be eligible for tickets to the next pod of games. If a student misses four claimed games, he will not be eligible for any more tickets. Even if he sells the ticket to someone who then chooses not to attend, the student will be penalized.
“We don’t want to play a guessing game of who’s coming,” Lochmann said.
Lochmann added that the system has worked well in other schools, including at Kansas.
Entry to Crisler Center on gamedays will commence as in previous years — those who arrive earliest will earn bleacher seats. For the Wolverines’ marquee contest against rival Michigan State, the Athletic Department will distribute its allotment of 3,000 tickets to the students who attended the most games.
“(The Michigan State game) is where we’re going to reward our most loyal students,” Lochmann said.
Students who do not like the new policy can request a full refund, and the Athletic Department plans on e-mailing season ticket holders with an outline of the new process before the end of the week. If a student does not request a full refund, she will not receive a refund for games not attended during the season.
Lochmann said demand for student tickets is at its highest point since the Fab Five era in the early 1990s. The new system allows for the Athletic Department to grant full season tickets to every student who requested them while avoiding a split package in which students only receive entry to a portion of the Wolverines’ home games.