that Americans are all tapped out. Time to cutback like the rest of America, BCS teams.
CBS Sports: SEC Attendance Issues
Yep. Stagflation is taking it's toll. People aren't making more but schools are charging more for everything. It's time to cut back on all these renovations because they're not going to matter if you can't get asses in the seats because of ridiculous prices.
That doesn't explain why more and more students across the country who buy tickets aren't showing up. It seems to be more a societal thing than an economic one.
The article isn't about student attendance; that's just one component that is touched on. What the poster said who you were responding is a very real factor, especially when the SEC has seen average attendance slip year to year for four consecutive years now.
It's time to cut back on all these renovations because they're not going to matter if you can't get asses in the seats because of ridiculous prices.
I don't think facilities renovation has all that much to do with it. Facilities renovation at Michigan, and at most similar places in the SEC and elsewhere, are subsidized by private donations. When you can put a donor's name on a new Fieldhouse, or a player development center, or a study center, or a locker room, or concourse... you can get a lot of private money from donors who want their names on those things. You can even endow an athletic directorship. Like, say, the Donald Shepherd Athletic Director chair at the University of Michigan. That would be occupied by David Brandon.
But you can't put somebody's name on insurance costs, or payroll, or airline and ground transportation costs. Or tuition. Atlhough we even have endowed athletic scholarships. Anyway, we have an awful lot of ongoing costs besides glamorous, donor-named, on-campus buildings that host sporting events.
What I am getting at is that we probably don't spend too lavishly on supporting revenue-producing sports that can pay for themselves very nicely, thank you very much.
Our problem is that we ask too much from those revenue sports, to support a utopian view of equalized spending on men's and women's sports per Title IX.
Michigan football could pay for itself and provide a low-cost product that 110,000 people would find affordable. If only it didn't also have to keep 14 women's teams out of the red and in the Blue.
In general, Michigan isn't having a problem right now. We sell 110,000 tickets 7-8 times per year and bring in much through TV. However, that only applies to about 20 or so programs in the country.
The big issue is that the athletics arms race applies not only to revenue sports, but also to the non-revenue sports. While big donors do help, most of the facilities are debt financed using the university's credit rating, which makes the debt remarkably cheap. My concern is that if the TV money runs out, states are going to be on the hook for multi-million dollar facilities used by only 20-50 students, depending on the team. That's not acceptable to me.
... While big donors do help, most of the facilities are debt financed using the university's credit rating, which makes the debt remarkably cheap. My concern is that if the TV money runs out, states are going to be on the hook for multi-million dollar facilities used by only 20-50 students, depending on the team. That's not acceptable to me.
Nor I. You make a very effective point. At the same time, as we all know, tv craves live sports right now. It's the one thing that cannot be time-shifted or digitally recorded for later viewing without commercials. Actually, it can. But nobody does it. The revenue model might just be that fragile.
Anyway, we very much agree. The collegiate athletics arms-race spending spiral is perhaps even worse than the rest of the intolerable collegiate price spiral.
The major address that I am looking forward to hearing from somebody some day (and oh how I hope it would be David Brandon) is how to roll that price-spiral back.
The concern goes back to cable debundling and the disasterous effect it will have on the BTN and (less so) on ESPN. The BTN is only profitable because they strongarm cable companies into paying subscriber fees for everyone who buys cable, regardless of whether or not they watch the channel. Cable debundling will happen and revenue will plummet, the question is when.
Every university knows the athletics model is broken. Non revenue sports get facilities, uniforms, and budgets that aren't sustainable without other peoples' money. I'm okay with Michigan for now, because the students don't pay for it. Eastern Michigan, on the other hand, pays for athletics entirely with student fees and government money. Trust me, I've looked at their annual report, it's the only way they can be financing athletics.
The only way to stop the spiral is for something really bad to happen. I think it takes the form of a huge scandal where taxpayers are left holding the bag for some obscene football complex at a small-time school that got shut out in the expansion game. The fallout might bring things back into line and create more regional games for the non-revenue sports. Until then, schools will keep building.
Big cable companies make more money with the current system, so they have no impetus to change. The FCC could push things along, but a la carte pricing has been pushed for by consumers for 20 years, and they're no closer to that now than they were then, and I doubt the new leadership there will change that. Until content providers de-couple themselves from cable en masse, revenues will be there (and decoupling from cable might actually benefit sports content providers). Media revenue is very safe for sports for some time.
Inflation has been very low for a long time. What has been a problem is that real median income has been unbelievably week.
this would not seem to be the problem. At UNC however, the students get the tickets for free in a lottery system, and don't show up. (For basketball too.) I have heard Duke is seeing a drop off at Cameron Indoor as well.
We are talking about a generation having been brought up in a world where everything is available through multiple media options. My oldest teenager is so used looking at a screen of some type, when we go boating I have to remind him to get his head out of the GPS, and actually look where he is and where others are. Not to mention enjoy being outside in the real world.
Perhaps the golden egg (SEC, ACC, B1G network) is killing the live experience. Back when two or three games a year were on a small (by today's standards) tube TV, going to the game was important. (And we even had great TV announcers then.) Now you can hang at the frat, drink (or smoke) without having your thermos confiscated by security on the way in, and watch the game live on a big screen ... why go?
It would be interesting to understand, but I suspect this is closer to the reason for the issue. The real worry here of course is: if they do not "imprint" the game day experience in current students, in the long run the other seats will go empty as well.
According to the traditional measure, inflation is low. But if you factor in some things that aren't included in the traditional sample - like college tuition - it's another story. A generation ago, people could pay for their college tuition/books by waiting tables. Now, not so much.
That doesn't really explain the issue at Alabama. Student tickets this year were $35 for the season. That's the one thing they do really well here. Unfortunately, they sold out in about 20 minutes. So you get a bunch of students who just want to sell them and can't (the process to make them non-student tickets is a pain and includes the $70ish upgrade fee).
I don't think this issue applies to the general population. I'm pretty sure the majority of focus on this is student attendance. I would be surprised if the issue was financially driven amongst students. I think current students are choosing to spend their time differently on fall Saturdays. I personally think it is unfortunate, but it is their choice.
"I'm pretty sure the majority of focus on this is student attendance."
I didn't get that from the article.
I was commenting more on the general issue which has been brought up multiple times on the blog.
Penn State never seems to average their seating capacity. Depending on how they do the next couple years, it could be really empty.
Also if the general admission in Michigan Stadium works, the problem will be fixed. I saw no problem in regular fan and alumni attendance last year, just students. The regular seats were almost all filled before the student section was 3/4 full.
Students have been argued ad nauseum, but GA won't solve the attendence problem. It's not going to cause more people to go. The problem it solves is those that show up being more timely.
Playing 8 conference games in a 14 team league + crap OOC schedules can lead to some pretty crappy match ups for ticket holders
The only thing linking college football/basketball with college anymore is the fact that the teams share the names with schools. It's not an SEC thing, it's happening everywhere.
most college's have expanded their student sections in the last 20 years to levels that were kind of ridiculous.
Is this really true? I'd love to see the data... if expansion really has taken place, then that would seem to be a primary culprit for the student no-shows.
I've wondered about any correlation between the percentage of out-of-state students and the student attendance problems at UM, but even if there is a correlation here, is that also the case at the SEC schools?
either. But. consider that just about everybody in college football has attempted some kind of expansion, even small ones, in the last 20 years. As far as I know every one of them has included some kind of larger area for the students, mostly in an effort to keep the complaining to a minimum about the high costs of expansion.
I was out of state, and was not a college football fan at all until I walked into Michigan Stadium on Sept 10, 1983 ... My out of state collegues and I were at the games just like everyone else.
As I commented above, I think this is a media obsessed generational thing. Heck, you can't even send a text or tweet, much less a video clip from the stadium reliably during a game. Pandora or Sound Cloud cut out too. Who lives like that?
I just really find it amazing that this conference is having such a hard time selling tickets. But that really does go to show you loyalty. Even in the pros, teams like the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Indians (spits) that are great are having a hard time selling tickets.
TV, man. Why go to the ballpark and spend all that money when you get a better view on TV?
If you're not a huge fan, the bad games probably get pretty painful. Just sitting through all the TV timeouts in the hot sun while you're hung over isn't a lot of fun.
The difference between alumni and students is that the alumni who buy tickets are typically big fans. The students are a mix of real fans and people who buy tickets because they "should" or because it's a social thing.
Additionally, students often have things pulling them from campus on the weekends, like family events. Heck, I missed half the games last season because I was on recruiting trips. Things just fell on really, really bad days for my Michigan addiction--I was in a hotel following the MSU game on ESPN.com's Game Cast because I couldn't get whatever station is was on in the hotel.
HDTV. Bad economy. High ticket prices.
Those are the three major reasons for tickets not being sold. But since this is about tickets that are paid for without people showing up, I'll give those major reasons.
Terrible non-conference schedules, bad conference schedules (look at our home schedule for 2014), and for the student section in particular, the 3 reasons I gave above have made it so that most kids didn't go to college football games (or live sporting events) as a child.
I know for me, that is where I became a HUGE Michigan football fan. And you don't have to go to a Michigan game to learn to love the atmosphere of live sporting events. So even though I had friends from New York, Jersey, Cali, Texas, and Florida, all of them grew up loving football (pro and college) and going to games. For us, going to the game was a must! Being on time was a must. In particluar i loved watching them warm up. But for kids who just like Michigan football because we are good, its a social event, or the games are excited, those kids don't show up in a bad year, or vs Eastern Michigan, or turn down another social event because its a home football weekend, or stay for a blowout against Northwestern.
This is all my opinion. Let me know what you think is causing this.
It's true about kids not attending live sporting events. My kids are the age where they would start, but there's no good way anymore to dip a toe in the water and see if they like it. The hurdles and cost are huge.
Yes, we could go to some very local very minor league event, but there is nothing like the magic of going to see a team live that you also follow on TV. All of those teams have priced out regular working people, let alone kids. They are choking off their future fans.
thank god some forward-looking schools are adding cuddly mascots to address this issue.
I agree with the reasons you post about why demand is faling. What I don't get is, why do these ADs (and in pro sports, all these owners) act surprised? For years, they've been increasing the cost of attending a sporting event with PSLs and "donations" and the like. Now, the poorest part of their market - the students - are finding it more convenient to watch a game at home, and are probably a harbinger for the alumni and general fans too. The solution is dictated by the market - improve the product (better games that people want to be able to say "I WAS THERE" for, less RAWK music?) and lower prices to spur falling demand. It's not like people watching on TV is a huge problem for them anyway - judging by the way conference expansion went, it seemed like a driver for increased revenue. Now you're confused that those same actions leave less demand for people to buy a ticket to watch Michigan host Maryland and Utah at the Big House while Sparty and Ohio are both on the road?
I'm a lowly servant on here so I can't start my own threads and I am patiently waiting for the Game 6 thread to start up. Go Wings
It's not really a financial issue at Michigan with the students. We still sell out our student section every year. The students just aren't coming to the games which is unacceptable at a football blue blood like Michigan.
This doesn't always go over well, but....
At Michigan, I would love to see the correlation between the rise of out-of-state students and the decline in attendance.
I'm too lazy to look up the former and the AD doesn't share the information for the latter.
Maybe I'm biased because I was an out of state student, but I wouldn't be surprised to see just the opposite (i.e. out of state students are more likely to attend). Not saying its definite, but a case can be made either way if we're just speculating.
My group of friends were primarily out of state, and we all attended every game because we were diehard fans. When an out of state student comes to Michigan, it's just as expensive as any college (private or public) in the country, so we really want to come for a variety of factors including the athletics/school spirit.
My theory is that although many of the in-state students are also diehards, there is a large faction of which picked Michigan simply because it is the best academic school in the state. If you cannot afford to leave the state and only care about academics, you will end up at Michigan. Since out of staters are already paying a small fortune, presumably they picked Michigan for a variety of factors rather than academics alone (otherwise we would have gone to UVA, Berkeley, etc. in our home states for cheaper).
I can tell you the sports culture of UofM, specifically the football program, played a huge role in why I went to Michigan
But, times are different now. My dad came to UofM from Tennessee, and be said the sports were a part of that because of the amount of exposure the school got since he was a sports fan.
However, the amount of out of state applicants has skyrocketed in the last few years because of the Common App. You no longer apply to Michigan because you want to go there, you do it because you just have to check the box (basically). So when a lot of these students don't get into their reach schools but get into Michigan, they come here with little regard for sports traditions.
I dont know that the ration of in-state to out-of-state has changed that much through the years. I can tell you in 1981 my fraternity was about 50-50 and still is today.
I just think it's cultural. Football is not as important to students nationwide as it used to be and you know who should be scared as hell over that? The NFL.
I don't think it has anything specific to do with football; in fact I think football has become the most popular sport in the country the past 15-20 years, over baseball. It's a sports thing in general and what kids are into. I have read the same concerns and issues at Duke basketball student section - they are having a hard time filling those spots and if Duke is not filling their student section it says all you need to know about changing tastes.
I don't want to generalize about an entire generation but it does seem with so many entertainment choices, sports have moved down the totum pole a bit. Socializing, "facebooking", video gaming, etc have slowly eroded it. But to focus on football or the NFL as something to worry about - I don't think so. It is the most popular sport out there - especially with the gambling and fantasy football that most easily attaches to the sport specifically over others.
This is interesting really when you also look at the SEC's reported attendance figures on the NCAA worksheets on accumulated attendance and aggregate percentages associated with these totals.
For example, Alabama achieved 110.4% capacity when the stadium capacity is multiplied by seven home games and compared to attendance. LSU, Texas A&M and Mississippi State actually managed to exceed 100% on this measure as well.
Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Auburn, Arkansas, Missouri, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt all fell in the 99.99% to 90% range. The only two schools with relatively poor accumulated attendance (due to performance largely) were Tennessee at 87.81% and Kentucky at a quite low 73.50%.
Over 97 home games in the conference in 2012, the SEC actually comes out with reported attendance being 96.82% of maximum capacity of the stadiums combined. So, they are looking for ways to essentially get a 3.18% or better increase in attendance conference-wide if the goal is to be "at capacity". If you assume they target 100%, that's an average of 17,180 more fans per stadium. Divide that by 97 games, for the sake of argument (not sure how many home games are actually on their slate for 2013), that's an average of 178 more people per game at each home game. Of course, not knowing the exact timeline, it's hard to know how gradual a rise they would actually look at.
If their strength of schedule didn't lag behind conferences like the Big Ten or the Pac-12, for example, that might help for starters, as someone mentioned. Regardless, for a couple of the teams in the SEC, even 178 more people at a game might be a tall order.
Attendance figures are doctored. Usually attendance figures include tickets sold (not people in seats), media credentials granted, concession workers, security, etc. Essentially it counts every ticket and every person in the stadium. It's why for big games the attendance figure is often higher than stadium capacity due to a higher amount of media credentials given out, extra security, etc.
Geez, will the racism ever end in that state?
Is there proof that student attendance is dropping? I mean yeah it wasn't great this year (and i do think out of state vs in state has hurt some) but student sections have also expanded, is it possible the same number of students are showing up and it just looks worse? This is just a question i'm not sure. Also yeah tv can't have helped.
I have been a season ticket holder for well into double digit years. I live in southeastern MI and have two friends who live out of state with tickets right by mine. All toghether we have six seats. We are all young professionals and have the money for the tickets, but we are starting to ask ourselves why we keep paying for season tickets each year. With home game schedules that are very lackluster and family activities, why the hell am I dishing out a couple grand each year to attend two or three games? I love the University, but at what point do I say what the hell am I getting in return for my PSLs and ticket prices? I spent thousands of dollars in tuition for a nice piece of paper. Don't get me wrong, it has opened up some doors that other pieces of paper wouldn't have. But, its getting to the point where I can have a few friends and family over, not worry about having a few beverages, and watch the game on really nice TV. I am happy with this. My buddies come into town once or twice a year to go to games and we have a great time together, but they are starting to feel like I do. Stubhub is becoming a more and more attractive option. Please don't get mad at me for this post, because it is reality.
Not to mention donating back to the actual school is a nice way to spend that money too, you can make a big difference.
I'm starting to think the issue is not necessarily the fact that all students get tickets, but are required to purchase for the whole season. While the out of state issue could still exist to an extent, I envision the following system as being a solution:
Tickets are done on a game by game basis
All students have access
You can reserve/buy at any time, but must do so 3 weeks prior to game
Unsold student tickets are released to alumni/public
One no show/late show up is a warning. A second ends your ability to get tickets for Rest of season
Student tickets are season tickets. A lot of students buy their "saeson tcikets" so that they will be able to go to the Ohio State game or the Michigan State game. They don't really care about the rest of the games, so they don't go or they go late and leave early.
I don't think the AD wants to sell individual games to students, but they should at least make it much easier for students to be able to sell the tickets they don't want. Perhaps a way to selll them on-line on short notice back to the AD who can then resell them on-demand to fans who want to go. The current system is way too cumbersome for busy (and some lazy) students to deal with.
One simple way of fixing the attendance issue, is stop scheduling terrible home games and actually get matchups that people might actually care about. App St? Terrible...Cincinatti? What's the point?? Yea i get it you make some money and pad the record. But you can't do one and then complain about the lackluster attendance. Think about it. If Michigan played App St at a neutral site would people go? No.. So why do people act surprised that interest is low just because its at home?
and my dad had seats next to mine since 1956. My brother gave those up three years ago and we have been talking for over a year about giving up mine and going the StubHub route. For two grand or more for seats and paying more to park to watch Eastern, Indiana, Illinois etc just so you can be there for OSU, HD and MSU is getting silly.
The average household in Michigan that doesn't have $150k of yearly income can't keep this up. College football and Michigan included are going to see more people stay at home. There is no line for my bathroom, or the kitchen and I don't have to pay to park. My favorite part of the game is when the band and the team come on the field. That is one of the most exhilarating moments you can experience in sports.
But, to justify the expense when I have a 15 yr old that will need a vehicle in a year, college in three more and my eventual retirement , watching on TV is getting more attractive all the time.
My good friend at work has season tickets with his dad and brother also. They have had them tickets for 20yrs and finally gave them up last season because it was just too expensive to buy every year. He said that the people around his section gave their seats up also because of cost and these are people he sat with for 20yrs. Im not sure if its the real problem but it doesnt help when, like others have said, you have a nice flat screen tv and having friends and family come over to watch the game. I know I could never afford season tickets as an average joe.
I think about the kind of investment my parents made when I was a kid, to be able to take our family to football games in the fall and basketball and hockey games in the winter. Our family's schedule revolved around Michigan athletics, week in and week out, for nine months out of the year. It was affordable, fun, and engaging.
Today, twenty years later, that's an unaffordable proposition for most families. Not only the cost of tickets alone, but what it takes on top of that to get in the front end once you factor in PSD's and mandatory Victors Club donations when you're trying to outpace everyone else to make sure you stay where you are. It's an absurd proposition.
I know I will never be able to offer my kids the same opportunities my parents did for us when it comes to Michigan sports. That's too bad, but Dave Brandon has his sights set on a certain price point that doesn't appeal to families. We're not only trying to keep up with ourselves, but with a "market" or "platform" or whatever his marketing buzzword is that particular day.
As a result, I find myself increasingly disinterested and disengaged with where Michigan football is going in general, and where college football is going as a whole. It isn't the same anymore. I don't identify with corporate naming rights and marketing lingo. I identify with Michigan. And the Michigan name is being increasingly buried beneath the layers of this stuff. And that's too bad.
Scaring the shit out of David Brandon. When you have decades-long fans bailing on Michigan football because of the ridiculous amount of money required for season tickets, it makes me wonder if demand isn't as impervious to price as is commonly supposed.
there probably is a core group of students who do attend every game, mostly on time, becuase they were brought to Michigan games as kids with their family. They already know the game day experience and that is why they go. What's more, they are the ones pulling other "non-initiated' to go as well.
Agree, if it is no longer affordable for a family to attend games routinely - especially the good games - then Michigan is erroding its future fan base.
I'm with you on this. I would also add that having weak home schedules adds to my detachment. I love that last year we took on tough teams, but why not have these teams come to the big house? And they thing the season gets more interesting by adding Maryland and Rutgers into the schedule while displacing traditional big ten teams? Not to be all "get off my lawn" but some of these changes are just awful.
I don't think the economy has much to do with it. I think there's 2 major problems:
1) Race to the bottom scheduling. This has been discussed, and I think they're working to correct it.
2) Replay. Nothing is more of a buzz kill than a 5 minute replay after every other big play. It's boring TV and even worse when you're in the stands. Football is not supposed to be an exact science, so ditch replay and just stick to playing football.
Remember, poor student attendance is more of a reflection of the quality of the game over the past 5-10 years and not just its present state. CFB is now paying the price for mistakes made over the past decade and the trend will only eventually reverse if they make positive improvements to make the game more attractive to adolescent spectators.
Those schools have MASCOTS on the sidelines! Imagine how bad it would be if they didn't, huh Dave Brandon?
It's no secret that the internet has decreased the average attention span. In addition, any of you who may have tried to sit through "classic" movies for Memorial Day may have noticed that the pace of old "action" movies is glacial compared to contemporary ones.
Maybe the younger generation is trying to tell football that the games are too long, especially with all of the TV timeouts. The bigger problem is that if students don't care about games now, attendance might really start to decline as baby boomers start to die off.
Whatever the case, schools might want to solicit input from students. The people using current student tickets represent future full price season tickets.
The prices are rising and people don't make that much more money. Tickets in 2003 were $50 or $55 for the notre dame game. Now I think they're like $85 for the bigger games. Give me a break. People can't afford that and it's showing with people not renewing season tickets.
And if you've been following the strategy closely, non-renewed season tickets mean more seats available for these mini season packages. If Athletics can put two or three different people in the same seats, get them all to donate to the Victors Club for the right to do so, and parlay that into sustained donations from all of them, they end up ahead.
The old days of season tickets being the preferred mode to get people in the seats week after week are over.
It's a shame to lose a toaster over a frayed cord.