With about six months left until the start of football season, athletic department officials say they’ve sold 57 of the 81 new suites in Michigan Stadium, which will be unveiled for the first game of the upcoming season in the fall.

But Joe Parker, senior associate athletic director for development, said he isn’t concerned that all of the suites haven’t been sold yet.

According to Parker, the 57 buyers’ first year’s payments have been collected. Four of the 57 buyers have also already paid their contractual commitments — which span a minimum of three years — in full.

According to a Feb. 12 Detroit Free Press article, 2,822 commitments have been made to purchase the new club seats being built. About 3,000 indoor and outdoor club seats are available on the east side of the stadium and run from about $1,500 to $4,000 each in addition to the price of a season ticket. In place of the old press box, 704 “chair back” seats are also available for $2,000 each.

“We’re only right now in March and have roughly half of a year to secure commitments before the first game of the 2010 season,” he said.

According to Parker, when the athletic department reaches the point at which they’ve sold 70 percent of the suites and club seats, the project will have paid for itself.

Parker said in order to sell the remaining suites and seats, his office will continue to make connections with loyal Michigan football fans as well as those currently not involved with Michigan football.

The suites, which flank both the west and east sides of the stadium will cost buyers $55,000 to $85,000 annually. A large portion of the funds from each sale is considered a contribution to the University and is used to finance the stadium renovations.

Parker added that every suite purchased after the 70 percent sale target has been reached would provide additional money for funding other projects in the athletic department.

Fewer than 20 of the suite buyers, Parker said, are “true corporate entities,” and that the majority of suites has been purchased by individual consumers. He added that many of the individual as well as corporate buyers, like Dow Chemical and DTE Energy, have had a long-standing history with the University.

“It has not been, what I think a lot of people might have anticipated, as just a lot of companies that have had no experience with the institution,” Parker said.

And, while the economic climate has been a factor in suite sales, Parker said he doesn’t believe the football team’s record over the past two years has affected sales.

“Most people that we’ve talked to, they’ve invested in Michigan football for years and they realize, like all things in life, there are points in time where its cyclical and there’s going to be some experiences that are kind of a downturn,” Parker said. “So, they’re in it for the long term. They aren’t thinking about the course of two seasons and wins and losses.”

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