The professor in my English class likes to criticize the University for changing its course-registration procedure.
“If it ain”t broke, don”t fix it!” Professor Bauland says about the change from phone registration to a new computerized version.
He”s right the system causes absurd problems, a point I learned very clearly when I was trying to get off several waitlists earlier this year.
But it doesn”t bother me too much it”s something that becomes a hassle twice a year. I can deal with that.
What I can”t deal with is the so-called “improvement” that my darling Yost Ice Arena has found since the last time I watched a game there.
Of course I”m talking about the new luxury boxes that hang over the student section. I”m not going to talk about the rest of the $1.4 million project the center-ice scoreboard because it means nothing to me. The luxury boxes completely block my view.
I don”t ask much of my University. But one thing that I will not waver on is the that the school, and all its departments, understand the value of my money.
I don”t feel that request is being sated in this case.
I didn”t complain when Athletic Director Bill Martin raised prices for football tickets I applauded the decision. The department needs money, and the Michigan football team is one of the most marketable entities that I know of. I gladly paid the extra money.
And I didn”t complain on Sept. 4, 1999 when I saw my first Michigan football game. Sure, my seats (row 92 in front of the south scoreboard the visitors” section) were closer to the field at Spartan Stadium than Michigan Stadium, but I kept my mouth shut.
This time, though, I”m furious. In September, I cut a check to the Michigan Ticket Office for more money than hockey tickets had ever cost in the past. Like I”ve said, I don”t mind paying more but I won”t accept giving more money for less of a product.
I know that I”m not the only one outraged by the situation. Nor should I be. The athletic department knew that the addition would cause a problem. But it did little to alleviate the issue.
There are television sets hanging off the overhang which are supposed to represent a scoreboard for the fans whose views are blocked. But in the case of my seats, the screens are pointed in the opposite direction they don”t help at all. Don”t even get me started on the fact that standing up to cheer requires risking hitting my head on a post, not the fault of renovation (it”s because Yost is a 77-year old building) but an added annoyance in a sea of frustration.
I”m a big hockey fan, but that”s not the only reason I buy tickets I do it because of the experience of seeing a game at Yost, the knowledge that what surrounds the ice is as enticing as what happens on the surface. That experience is gone now.
Its replacement is a muffled echo of fans screaming, an inaudible and certainly unappealing sound coming from the band and a neck cramp from trying to see everything on the ice.
The situation reeks like a “shit sandwich” in the words of a friend that I sit with. He”s right it”s just not fair that the athletic department has ruined the Yost experience for those unlucky enough to be seated near me.
It gets worse there are still a lot of seats remaining to be sold in the new luxury boxes. That means that I”m being blocked by nothing but empty seats!
The department has to do something about this mess. Maybe it should look at the situation and refund some money to those whose seats are just worth less. I think that, if nothing else, those in my shoes should be allowed to move around without being harassed by Yost”s attendants. If I”m paying good money to be at a game, I have every right to get as much out of it as anyone else, don”t I?
I spoke to Mr. Martin last night, and he gave me an understandable explanation the department is experiencing “teething pains” in his words. We need to give them time to iron out the issues. He heard every one of my complaints and agreed to look into them.
But my feeling is this: I can”t be at the games this weekend because I”ll be in Iowa City. So I”m willing to give my seat to Bill Martin or anyone else in a high position in the department. If after the game, that person can honestly tell me that he or she didn”t see a problem that my ticket is worth as much money as those five rows in front of me I”ll drop my complaint.
Here”s the irony: Originally, this column was going to be about the fact that the brand-new scoreboard should have video capabilities. Now, I”m just hoping that I”ll be able to see it.
Jon Schwartz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.