Alabama taking away student seating priv(i)ledges due to leaving early

Submitted by trueblueintexas on October 26th, 2013 at 1:37 AM

Summary: Saban and Alabama officials are upset students have been leaving games early so they are imposing a clause which is in the ticketing rule. 20 student organizations (mainly greek orgs) will no longer get priority to sit together in blocks. It will be open seating throughout the student section.


Not exactly a big punishment but it is petty even if it was clearly stated up front.

I find it interesting the powers that be in college football have been making decisions for years which have nothing to do with the students interest.  Most of the decisions have been made to increase TV viewership.  And yet, athletic departments and coaches can't understand why students are showing up late and leaving early.





October 26th, 2013 at 2:05 AM ^

privledges are toilets on a cliff?   Please fix and make my comments look dumber than they are annoying.  Not easy I know.

I give up blogging for 24 hrs. Time to read books.


October 26th, 2013 at 2:08 AM ^

Absolutely what they should do.  The block seating system is basically a way that guarentees the best seats for only those who are involved in greek life.  I'm not against the greek system in any way, but I don't think whether or not you joined a frat should determine what seats you have for football games.  That's a stupid system, IMHO.


October 26th, 2013 at 11:25 PM ^

when schools start doing the same things to alumni then I won't believe that this is really about limiting student seating so they can sell the tickets for more money...

then and only then...


ps.  If i buy tickets to a jay-z show and don't go do you think Jay-z is gonna withhold my right to buy tickets next tour?  Its getting out of hand...


Bando Calrissian

October 26th, 2013 at 2:23 AM ^

I'm so damn sick of hearing about student ticket policies.

Athletic Departments should sell tickets to students. Students should go to games. Across the country, there seems to be a disconnect somewhere in this pretty simple equation, and it seems no one really wants to get at exactly what that is. 


October 26th, 2013 at 2:30 AM ^

Your last sentence is the one that bothers me about this trend. It's not like the students are some hidden market the athletic department can't access. That's why I find it ridiculous various athletic departments are inacting these petty systems to punish the very people they want to show up. I know it's not popular on this blog, but I have a long career in marketing and not once have I ever thought punishing my target market because they are not purchasing my product was a good idea.

Bando Calrissian

October 26th, 2013 at 2:54 AM ^

To me, it's a two-way street. Students seem generally more disinterested in college football than they were before. And Athletic Departments (especially ours) are freaking out, so they respond by generally inconveniencing, if not punishing students to try to compensate for the fact student interest  is down. It's a vicious circle. When a game at Michigan Stadium is less attractive to a student than standing on a front lawn with a red Solo cup and then staggering inside to catch the TV broadcast, what's going wrong?

So, really, the question isn't the students themselves as much as what is it about the product, the atmosphere, the ticket prices, or even the sport in general that causes kids to want to stay home and watch on TV instead of going to their campus stadium? What makes a kid with a ticket in hand decide not to go? Why is that ticket pretty much worthless on the secondary market if they try to sell it? 


October 26th, 2013 at 3:13 AM ^

Someone made a great comment on this topic a few weeks ago:  "Students are simultaneously your best and worst fans."

That's so true.  Nobody can bring the passion to the game like the students once they're in the stadium.  The problem is getting them in the stadium, on time, and getting them to stay.  They are very fickle about that.

At least one of our 15 Marketing MBA's in the AD should find out why they are not coming/coming late/leaving early, and what may entice them to change that.  

This might be more productive than dreaming up yet another scheme for sticking a finger in the fans' eyes and separating them from a few dollars in their wallets with things like seat cushion licenses.

If after proper due diligence it turns out that today's kids really are different and there is nothing you can do to get them to attend in earnest, then cater to the ones that do want to show up, and shrink the size of the student section to make up for the ones that don't.



October 26th, 2013 at 8:23 AM ^

We've had this discussion many times. I can't remember all the reasons, but here are some of them.

  • There are so many more things to do.
  • There is less conformity, and less of a spirit of campus community (togetherness.)
  • Every game is on TV, in high definition, in more comfortable settings.
  • The cost of games has risen exponentially.

We can't go back. Cable TV in high definition is with us. Costs never go down. Society is more and more fractured. There are creative ways to build community, but I don't see this happening at large state universities too often.


October 26th, 2013 at 11:46 AM ^

I have two teens with driver's permits. When they are driving with me I am constantly asking them "do you know where you are and how to get home?" They could be half a mile from home and have no idea. Same thing happens on the boat out on the lake.

The only reason I can figure is they have never looked out the window at the real world and imprinted that map and sense of location and direction in their heads because they have always been connected or entertained.

A lot of good food included in the meal plan, student involvment (like voting) in the next seating policy (which has to include flexibilty to sit with friends who arrive at different times), and real connectivity in the stadium are probably starters.

Bottom line though, many in this "connected and entertained" generation completely disagree with your statement whether they philosophically admit it or not.

Picktown GoBlue

October 27th, 2013 at 1:50 AM ^

and it really pains me as a person who loves maps and loves figuring out where I am even if I'm lost (but won't admit it).  My offspring can navigate their way through complex video games, but one of them (this just happened tonight) could not identify the name of the street his school was located on.

I'll never have another thrill like seeing Denard running towards our endzone in the Western Michigan game.  But many might be satisfied watching replays from 4 different angles of it from the comfort of their couch.  So, how to convince them otherwise?

I would think the AD's office would be trying to create future addicts/donors/season ticket alumni types.  Don't make them stand/sit outside the stadium for many hours just to get in early and get a good seat.


October 26th, 2013 at 1:29 PM ^

Unless you're near the front, that's not true. You may not be able to see the play live as well as you could with a tv. In fact, how many times do people look to the jumbotron for a live play? I know I have, because the live play was too far away to see what's going on.

I'm not saying tv is better than going to the game, because nothing replaces the atmosphere of being there with 110,000 friends. And seeing the play live in person is actually pretty neat, and obviously something a TV can't really convey.



October 26th, 2013 at 3:19 AM ^

Michigan, along with a LOT of other places, have overexpanded their stadiums -- both in terms of capacity and amenities (e.g., suites). They did this based on the boom of interest in the 90s & 00s. To justify that expansion, they've raised ticket prices dramatically to pay for it.

Well, it turns out there is not unlimited interest in college football, particularly when games regularly cost $100+ (incl parking) and take 4 hours plus due to frequent time stoppages for commercials. It's a flawed product.

Thus Michigan (to use one example) has expanded its capacity too much. If we were back at 107,000 as the capacity, this issue of a couple thousand students and a couple thousand other folks showing up wouldn't be as big a deal. But the greedy universities built for the OSU and MSU games, and didn't realize (esp with expansion) well over half the games are for opponents people could not care less about (Rutgers & Maryland anyone?)

Along with the "pay the players" movement and head injury concerns, it's going to be interesting times for major college football over the next few years.


October 26th, 2013 at 5:13 AM ^

Because many of the reasons you include do not apply to students. Parking is not an issue and neither is cost. I say cost is not an issue because they are in fact selling tickets and for almost all students that is the entire cost of the in stadium experience. The problem is why don't they show for the whole game despite spending the money.

Also note that Michigan and most other big time colleges are having little problem selling tickets to the general public. This is probably even more frustrating as they could be selling those student tickets to the public for more money and to people that would show up, but not be nearly as loud.


October 26th, 2013 at 8:37 AM ^

I'd be a lot happier if they just took away a sliver of the student section, from the field all the way up -- not the top part, and made it more selective to receive tickets. Make attendance and timeliness part of next year's renewal requirements and freshmen girls and frat boys who don't care about coming on time won't get tickets next year. You'll end up with the students who care and show up.

It isn't that there's less demand. It's that there's less demand by students. Economics states -- decrease that supply and you'll see demand shoot up. Take out a chunk and you'll have alums climbing over each other for field tickets and those close by. Students will still have their student section. It will just be commensurately smaller in proportion to their demand/actions.

Totally reasonable.


October 26th, 2013 at 8:43 AM ^

College football games -- b/c of TV timeouts and more incompletions due to more passing -- take F-O-R-E-V-E-R. Add in the fact that students (b/c of the new first come, first serve) are "expected" to get there an hour or two early, and you've got block out six hours of your day if you're going to be at the football game from start to finish.

If, instead, a student could drink, relax and dance with her friends at a house party until the game starts (so they can miss the 1/2 hour or more waiting in line), why wouldn't we expect that to happen? It's not what I would do, but there are only so many 'hard core' student fans who want to spend five/six hours at a game, particularly if it's a so-so opponent.

And you're completely wrong about there not being trouble selling to the general public. Look at the "waiting list" (or lack thereof) for Michigan and others. Look at the stub hub prices for any game not against a rival.

They've overexpanded and overpriced the product, generally speaking. It's perfect for MSU and OSU but for the majority of the games, it's overdone.

snarling wolverine

October 26th, 2013 at 12:04 PM ^

You seem to be moving all over the place with your reasoning.  

First, the stadium expansion was only by 2,400 seats and is unrelated to the student section; it's the same size as it was before.  Moreover, the student section sold more tickets this year than it has in many other years - it's at 22,000 this year, whereas it was as smal as 16,000 last decade.  Selling tickets to students is not a problem.

Second, StubHub is not a great gauge of general demand for tickets, because 90+% of them are sold in the form of season tickets.  The season ticket base has never shrunk to my knowledge.  There have always bee a small number of individual tickets for games, and they've always been easy to come by in most games through scalping (or now StubHub).  That's not a new development.  You could easily get cheap individual tickets for crappy games in the '80s, '90s and '00s.

Finally, even if general admission is a drag for students, that doesn't explain why their attendance was so poor last year, when it wasn't around.  The fact that it was so poor last year is why GA is in place now.

This is not about the size of the stadium or the ability to sell tickets.  It's about people having tickets and not using them.  The hardest part of the job (selling the tickets) is done; getting them to come should be the easier part of the job.



October 26th, 2013 at 12:44 PM ^

Students can only purchase season tickets.  They buy them so they will have access to the big Ohio State/MSU/ND/Nebraska games.  They tend to show up pretty well for those games.  A little late sometimes, but they do fill up the student section.

The rest of the games are hit and miss.  A lot of students are not hard core and don't really care.  But they've got tickets on their hands they will not use because they had to buy a season ticket package.

I don't know if single-game tickets for students is a viable option.  The AD at least needs to make it easier for students to sell tickets they don't want.  Perhaps something on-line where the students can trade back tickets they don't use and non-students can buy them.  No game day scalping.  The AD could even pocket a small transaction fee (DAVE!). 



October 26th, 2013 at 12:47 PM ^

Noon games are even worse.  They want to alter their minds regardless, and a noon start does not leave much time for it.  So they just show up very late or skip the game entirely.



October 26th, 2013 at 3:17 PM ^

with Bo kickoff was 1PM. noon once tv changed it, and the team was dominant. We have not only seen a change in performance, we have also seen a change in price, policies, and time. All of which are seriously changing my opinion of ticket purchasinge. I've held season tickets in my name for the last 25 yrs. I attended with my dad and uncle every bit of 10 years prior to that.
Now with traffic, and parking etc it takes all of your day to go. The thrill of live football is still great, and my 13 year old son LOVES it. But...watching in high def and cheap food etc sure makes one heck of a sales pitch vs, no bags, no food, no water, kick at 330 home by's become a pain in the ass...may be my last season with tickets and use stub hub for the occasional saturday thrill...particularly with the 2014 schedule...

snarling wolverine

October 26th, 2013 at 11:52 AM ^

Michigan, along with a LOT of other places, have overexpanded their stadiums -- both in terms of capacity and amenities (e.g., suites)

I think you are missing the point here. The issue is not that students aren't buying tickets (which would be an issue of the stadium being too large), but that they ARE buying them but for whatever reason, aren't coming.

Red is Blue

October 26th, 2013 at 8:02 AM ^

So you've never given a volume discount that rewards customers for buying more. Isn't another way to look at that is you price disadvantage (or punish) the customers that aren't good enough ( that is that don't buy enough).

My struggle with this is the students are generally given a price break over other customers. The result is the AD may take less revenue than they could otherwise get. What should the AD get in return for the discount? Support from the students? for developing a bond with students. If that support is not there, then maybe the AD does have rights to take action against students arguably not living up to their end of the bargain.


October 26th, 2013 at 2:57 AM ^

That may be what they are telling ESPN, but block seating was taken away 3 games ago due to an incident that became public where a sorority's alumni prevented a black girl from getting a bid because she was black. The backlash caused the student government to take away all block seating, but then they ended up reinstating it for the non-Greek blocks (pretty much the Student Government, Law School, and a few other groups). The fact is that the non-block seating area empties out just as much as the block seating area, and they are using it as an excuse to eliminate the Greek block seating without drawing more national attention to the fact that the Greek system has had some serious issues come to light regarding racism in the past few weeks.


October 26th, 2013 at 3:23 AM ^

I like how Saban calls out the students as if they are part of the team.  I like that.  Make 'em feel like they have some skin in the game.

They should randomly pick a bunch of kids from the student section each week to go stand on the sidelines and mix with the team and hear the coaches calls.  Break down that invisible wall between the students and the team.  Make them an actual part of the team, not just disinterested observers.  

Might get more of them to show up.