So the headline is that according to the Athletic Department, students are "50% late, 25% no-show."
Those numbers are startling to me, and probably worse than what I'd have guessed, having myself arrived on time ;-) and looking across the field at the empty portions of Sections 25-34. If the numbers seem wrong to you or offend your own sensibilites, you can send your complaints to 1000 S. State Street. Don't blame me.
Any way you slice it, the student ticketing/attendance is a problem. It's long past time for the students to quit griping about the rest of the Stadium's patrons (Up in Back!) and get their own act together.
So the question becomes what to do about it.
Brandon's response is two-pronged. (1) Raise ticket prices, so that students who do buy tickets have more skin in the game, and not just The Game. (2) Impose General Admission, so that students feel the need to get to the game early lest they end up in Row 89 of Section 36. (Row 89 of Section 36 is a view that a lot of football purists might like, by the way. It is a good angle to watch how plays are supposed to develop. It is the way every Offensive Coordinator or QB coach might want to watch a game.)
But there's a third angle, unspoken but clearly implied. Since Michigan's policy is "a ticket for every student who wants one," it may be that instead of a top-down Athletic Department limit on the number of student tickets, the market-driven way to reduce too-casual student ticket purchases is to make it more expensive and less assured that you'll get a spot (seats be damned, right?) that you'll like without getting there sooner. Make tickets available to every student who wants one. Just make it so that fewer students really want one. I'll eat Brian Cook's hat if that isn't part of the thinking from South State Street. And that part is what just might have the effect of cutting down on 2000-3000 too-casual students who don't show up. This isn't a wild guess on my part. Brandon said as much:
"If you pay a price for a ticket, how much of an investment are you making in that ticket?" he said. "We did a study to find out what other schools are charging for student tickets, because maybe we're too low. Maybe one of the reasons students aren't showing up is because they feel like they haven't made enough of a significant investment in the ticket.
"That wasn't our motivation. Our motivation was to get the students into the seats and be there to support the team."
I don't understand the General Admission idea, and how it is expected to work. I have not yet heard if they are abandoning distinct section-number requirements. I get the impression that they are (!?). How can it be that it won't result in chaos, with students lining up to get into sections (say for example, 25 and 26) that are filled? How will those lines be organized and policed? How will that traffic get directed? What happens, say, when Section 25 fills up, and a line of students 60 yards long is told to go to the next section, where there are already 200 people in line? How the heck will anybody who is outside the Stadium, know where to enter to find a
seat place to stand, since there is no way to tell what parts are filled and what parts have vacancy? I don't get it.
I'll say again here what I have said before; I have some sympathy for the students, and everybody else who enters the North end perimeter gates (East Keech Street - "GATE 10" in Stadium-speak.) With all of the students arriving at the last minute, that gate is probably the single worst bottleneck in getting students into the Stadium on time. The students wait up to 15-30 minutes at that bottleneck, which neatly corresponds with how late half of them are to kickoffs. My free advice to the Athletic Department is to get that part figured out. I sense that there is room down there to somehow expand the operation.
And there's the silly, phony "security theater" aspect of having solemn-looking cops and 'security' personnel check people for dangerous items like bottled water, cameras with telephoto lenses, apples and ladies' purses. I sense that smartphone-equipped students operate more on a "just in time" basis than ever before. They expect to time their route to the Stadium more closely than ever, only to run into a bigger than ever bottleneck at Gate 10, because 10,000 other students are doing exactly the same thing.