These two pictures were taken yesterday approximately 1:40 away from kickoff. The top picture is the alumni section and the bottom picture is the corresponding student section. One is full and one is approximately 25% empty. A lot of people both here on the board and in the stands are asking why this is happening and looking for answers on how to stop it.
Student attendance is a problem that is new (to Michigan anyways) and using positive reinforcement (The Hail program) didn't work. Negative reinforcement (General Admission) appears to also not be working if the goal is to get students to the games on time. And make no mistake from my perspective - I WANT the students to show up. They are loud, they are enthusiastic and they make the entire gameday environment better when they are there in force. But, I'd rather they were there from the beginning of the game and not midway into the first quarter to make their presence felt.
Here is my proposal on how to remedy this rather new student attendance issue:
- Discontinue general admission. Students have always had seating assigned based on their class and this should not change. Freshman should get the least desirable seats and Seniors should be rewarded. It was that way when my dad was there in the late 40's, for me in the late 70's and it should be that way now. General admission, in my opinion, is a mistake and should be ended.
- Stop discounting the price of student tickets. Students should pay the same rate as the rest of us for the seat and if that is too expensive for the student (or their parents) to afford then they always have the option of not purchasing them. This should weed out those who buy them without truly wanting to use them.
- Allow students unfettered rights to buy and sell tickets to anyone that wants to buy them. The free market will then determine if those seats have value and for how much. And if they are going to pay the same price as me to buy the seat, they should have the same freedom I do to sell that ticket for whatever the market says it's worth and to anyone who wishes to buy it. I sold two extra seats to the Notre Dame game for $300 each. I sold the same two tickets to Akron for $20 each. Give the students the same freedom as I have to buy and sell their seat.
We have fantastic students who make the Big House loud and an extremely difficult place to play for opposing teams (just ask Notre Dame). And I don't believe "punishing" them through general admission will make them show up for games earlier or in greater numbers. But making them pay the market rate for their seat might make those who arent really sure about football think twice before buying. And letting them sell that seat to whoever wants it is only fair.
EDIT: GoBlue20111 accurately points out the flaw in my proposal in that it depends on somebody holding mulitiple seats as I do to be able to sell one ticket at a profit while still attending the game. And students don't hold multiple seats so my idea wouldnt really fix anything for less attractive games. Mods can leave the post up or take it down if they chose - my idea is flawed and I see that now. The problem is real though and while my solution may not solve it we are need to acknowledge it exists.