With two home games completed in the 2014 football season, student opinion regarding this season’s new ticketing policy is positive, with many hoping that it remains the same in the coming years.

The University’s new student football seating policy, which changed the way in which seats are assigned, was developed in an effort to enhance the environment in Michigan Stadium by encouraging attendance and early arrival to games in response to low attendance at kickoff. The new plan also intends to improve the student experience by making it easier for students to sit with their friends at games.

The changed policy features an “attendance-driven reserved seating plan.” In this plan, students are assigned seats based on the number of points they have earned through game attendance during the previous season.

For the 2014 season, seats were determined through a combination of class year and attendance in an effort to be fair to upperclassmen. For the 2015 season, however, seats will be determined solely based on attendance points from 2014.

This restructuring comes at a time when the Athletic Department is struggling to attract a historically dedicated student fan base to this season’s games. Early estimates from the department predicted 8,000 fewer student packages being sold in 2014 compared to 2013 — a 40-percent drop in student purchases.

Michigan Stadium’s streak of 252 straight games with more than 100,000 fans in attendance was put in jeopardy Saturday, with an announced crowd of 102,824 that was considerably smaller than the stadium’s official capacity of 109,901.

Public Policy senior Bobby Dishell, Central Student Government president, worked closely with the Athletic Department to develop the new seating policy. He said he is optimistic that the change in policy will continue to benefit students, and he has observed that the student section is already more full before kickoff as a result.

“The feedback we’ve received has been overwhelmingly positive,” Dishell said. “When we surveyed students, the number one thing that students wanted was to be able to sit with their friends, and I think you can see in the student attendance numbers that that’s been reflected.”

Students have expressed positive opinions about the new policy, noting that it allows them the freedom to sit with friends by creating seating groups and reward those who are dedicated to attending games.

“I feel like they’re trying to give more loyal fans higher priority, so for people who came to more games last year, I guess, it would make sense to feel that they think the team’s more important,” said Engineering sophomore Jake Sprintz.

Engineering sophomore Greyson Schultz echoed this appreciation of fairness.

“If you didn’t go to really any games last year then I don’t know how important it would be for you to get good seats this year,” he said.

This change in policy comes on the heels of the 2013 season’s policy change, which abolished the previous seniority-based system and enacted a first-come, first-served system.

Many students felt last year’s policy was unfair to upperclassmen. LSA senior Elizabeth Swaynie bought season tickets starting her freshman year with the hope that she would be in front by her senior year.

“I knew back then that if I bought season tickets every year and I had put in my time I’d get to the front row,” Swaynie said. “I felt bad for the juniors who had worked so hard in buying these tickets and spending so much money on the athletic program and then just kind of getting the short end of the deal.”

Nevertheless, Swaynie said she believes there has been too much change and that the Athletic Department should pick one policy and stick to it. LSA junior Samantha Tinsley agreed that policy has been too unstable.

“I think it makes it really confusing because they’ve changed it every year since I’ve been here,” Tinsley said. “This is my third year here, and you kind of never know if they’re going to stick to it for next year.”

The Athletic Department and CSG will be monitoring student opinion of the new system’s enactment. Their goal is to continue to improve the experience of attending football games.

“Looking forward, the numbers show that this has really been positive for most students and we look forward to surveying students to continue to improve this and to see where we can keep getting better,” Dishell said.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.