The Michigan basketball team’s surprise 55-52 victory against fourth-ranked UCLA has many students giddy over the possibilities for Michigan’s basketball season. So far, that sentiment has allowed the Athletic Department tickets to sell more tickets to the team’s home games.
Tickets for the Dec. 6 Duke game sold out on Nov. 21, the day after the UCLA game.
Marty Bodnar, associate athletic director for ticketing services, said he thinks there was a correlation between the UCLA win and the sellout for the upcoming Duke game. He said that although the tickets were already close to being sold out prior to the UCLA game, the win certainly helped to spur sales further.
According to Bodnar, before the UCLA game, the Duke game was roughly 700 tickets short of being sold out. Thanks to heavy promotions since the end of October aimed at students via e-mail, Bodnar said, the Duke tickets were expected to sell out during Thanksgiving break.
Although he mainly attributed the quick sellout of the Duke game to the Athletic Department’s marketing plans, Bodnar said the win against UCLA helped to sell out the game a few days sooner than expected.
“Once we beat UCLA, the sellout [for Duke tickets] came pretty quick,” he said.
Despite low attendance in recent years, the big win over UCLA seems to have more basketball fans filing into Crisler Arena.
Two weeks ago, 6,200 people watched Michigan beat Northeastern. Last night, more than 7,500 people attended another weeknight game against a small-conference opponent, this time a win over Norfolk State.
LSA senior Emre Kazan, a member of the Maize Rage cheering group, said he thinks the increased student interest in Michigan basketball is due to both the UCLA win and the marketing department providing incentives for students to go to the game, like free tickets and free food.
Because of the UCLA win, Kazan said he is more likely to attend other games not included in the season package, like the Oakland University game at the Palace of Auburn Hills. He said it is especially important for students to pack Crisler Arena for the team’s most crucial games.
“I think students need to come to the games, especially the Duke, Ohio State and Michigan State games,” Kazan said. “I think people are more excited about basketball now.”
Despite heightened student interest in the team, student season tickets remain are no longer available for fans. The Athletic Department’s policy is that once the regular season starts — this year on Nov. 11, a week before the UCLA game — season tickets are no longer sold.
Bodnar said that the Athletic Department will not start selling season tickets after the UCLA game, because the season ticket package would include games that have already been played. However, students can attend the season’s remaining games for free by showing their MCard, with the exception of the Michigan State, Duke and Ohio State games.
This policy has disappointed some fans.
“I don’t have season tickets,” LSA freshman Tom Stuckey said. “But after UCLA, I kind of wanted to, because I became excited that after a depressing football season, we have a team that can win.”
The increased student support for the team came on the heels of a lethargic season ticket selling period for the Athletic Department.
Season tickets are down this year, with only 480 total student season tickets sold — a noticeable decline from previous years, when numbers reached into the thousands.
At the peak of student interest in the team, after its Final Four appearance in 1993, 4,100 fans applied for the 3,100 season tickets available.
But for some students, a big victory for the team does not necessarily mean they will shell out for season tickets. For them, season tickets do not offer enough flexibility to fit into their schedules.
“It’s not a matter of how much I like to watch basketball. It just doesn’t pay off to have season tickets when I can only go to a handful of the games,” LSA freshman Alan Sedghi said.