Alumni Association Discussion about Student Attendance

Submitted by Yostal on March 3rd, 2014 at 1:16 PM

It seems like the AD is using the Alumni Association to glean some feedback about the declining student attendance numbers.  If you'd like to share your well-reseasoned two cents (and actually see some pretty reasonable takes as well.)  Check out this link:

Student Attendance Declining at Big House

Comments

Bryan

March 3rd, 2014 at 1:37 PM ^

And win more games. Problem solved.

Sometimes it is hard for students to justify the costs on top of an already heavy debt burden, more so than at anytime in the past.

I tend to think that some of the old timers don't realize exactly how much school costs today, compared to 20-30 years ago, even when I was an undergrad 10 years ago.

Then again, all the kids could just be lazy underachieving drunks that don't show up on time.

tbeindit

March 3rd, 2014 at 2:15 PM ^

Can pretty much guarantee the majority of that 10% is due to the new ticket policy.  Several friends I know didn't buy tickets solely due to that reason.  To me, this isn't a huge problem because they can at least sell those tickets to other people.  It's the people who stay too long at their party, etc. that are the problem.  Buy tickets and show up at halftime.

jblaze

March 3rd, 2014 at 1:38 PM ^

Why are they asking the alumni why students do not attend games? With the exception of alumni who graduated 1 or 2 years ago, how do we know? Why not ask students?

RP

March 3rd, 2014 at 1:46 PM ^

They did ask us a few months ago through an email. They probably didn't like the answer since the majority basically went on a tirade against general admission.

The other problem is the prices vs quality of games. I'm fine with paying 250+ for football tickets, but not for just Akron and app state. A large fraction of my friends are no longer buying tickets for next year. Me included.

mGrowOld

March 3rd, 2014 at 1:48 PM ^

Why?  I'll tell you why - because the damn students keep giving the wrong answers.  They are suppose to say they just need more internet access and they'll show up in droves.

Instead the stupid kids keep talking about nonsensical things like ticket prices, crappy home schedule, poor results on the field, our ridiculous GA process and other things that people in marketing just KNOW dont matter in the least.

To get the right answers sometimes you just have to pose the question to a different audience.  I said "give them more internet access" and I think i'm getting a free seat cushion rental for a game or something.

rob f

March 3rd, 2014 at 3:10 PM ^

by RP,

 

the students recently were polled on this subject.  And for whatever reason, the AD is now taking the step of polling the alumni.  That's fine, if they do something constructive and positive with the results, but the AD's track record makes me very skeptical that they will be open-minded and institute positive change from what they learn. 

In the meantime, this subject has been hashed and re-hashed many times on MGoBlog, but I'm going to post links to two very good discussions (both prompted by a column by Darren Rovell, both of these threads also contain a link to Rovell's column) of the problem that were up in just the last few weeks here:

First, a link to Brian's Front Page post:

http://mgoblog.com/content/war-students-over-students-win 

and an MGoBoard discussion that ran about the same time:

https://www.google.com/url?q=http://mgoblog.com/category/user-tags/darren-rovell&sa=U&ei=5N4UU6u0EMW_kQf5l4GAAg&ved=0CAgQFjAB&client=internal-uds-cse&usg=AFQjCNFHlBzrLTE01sCW4P06jpuCcYBW8Q

IMO, what it all boils down to is this---if the AD doesn't go thru these surveys with a completely open mind, they won't solve ANYTHING.  And given the AD's track record with this and other issues, I'm not at all confident we will see positive change; more likely they will draw conclusions by cherry-picking the opinions that back up a pre-determined agenda (with $$$ as the #1 priority).

 

gwkrlghl

March 3rd, 2014 at 2:50 PM ^

This is going exclusively on memory but weren't they blacked out for years and ended up with awful home attendace? Then the son of the former owner took over, unblacked them out, got some good players and now they've got one of the best home ice atmospheres in the leagues. Someone correct me if I'm wrong

Don

March 3rd, 2014 at 4:20 PM ^

The current streak of consecutive games over 100,000 began back in 1975 when no more than 2 or 3 Michigan football games per regular season were televised. When I came to UM in '71, if you wanted to watch Michigan football, you had to go to the stadium, because unless it was MSU or OSU, it wasn't on the tube.

Seems to me the solution to the problem of student attendance is pretty simple: reduce the size of the student section by 25% or so. I'd either ditch the GA policy outright, or change it so students don't have to wait in line longer than anybody else just to get into the stadium.

NOLA Wolverine

March 3rd, 2014 at 1:55 PM ^

If the AD could figure out a way to sell individual game tickets to students that would pretty much end the no-show problem. Take last year as an example: if you wanted ND, OSU, and Nebraska tickets, buying the AD package for all games was easily the cheapest option. Whatever tickets are left over can be sold to the general population. There's a couple of things that would needed to be sorted out with this, but as long as only a reasonable amount of people apply for OSU tickets and  there is public demand for Akron seats it would be a big step forward as far as having people occupying seats on game day. 

gbdub

March 3rd, 2014 at 2:23 PM ^

I think this is definitely a big piece of the problem - season tickets are the only way to buy student tickets, and a full season of student tickets are still cheaper than attending more than 2 games at general public prices (plus single game seats are effectively impossible to obtain for OSU, MSU at student friendly prices). We probably have a significant part of the student fanbase that would love to go to a game, but not every game. There's also probably a meaningful contingent (a few % per game) that want to go to every game but miss out on one or two a season due to other committments. Both of these groups usually still buy season tickets.

This wouldn't be so bad, except that the AD has also made selling student tickets difficult by first going to the "validation" model (how much are they really making off of those?) and then by going GA, which makes student tickets even more of a hassle compared to other seats on the resale market.

I suspect the issue of unused tickets for general public seats is lower because a) the cost of season tickets is much higher, b)  single game seats are generally available, although the cost may be high or you may need to buy a cupcake game "package", and c) it's pretty easy to toss your tickets up on StubHub if you're not going to make it.  

One option that might help would be a "student ticket buyback" program. If you buy student tix, you're guaranteed a ticket to every game. However, if you determine you can't make it (say up to a week before game time) you can "release" your ticket for an 80% face value refund (your ticket would become un-scannable and a new one would be "printed"). Students who wish to go to a single game can go on a waiting list and purchase "released" tickets for 110% of student face value. If the number of tickets released exceeds the number of students on the wait list, the tickets would be offerred to the general public for the going rate (you could rope off the top of the student section and offer assigned seating at the top of the bowl, with the number of rows determined by the number of available tix). The difference in cost could pay for the management of the program.

M-Dog

March 3rd, 2014 at 5:08 PM ^

Yes, you hit the nail on the head.  There is a difference between "No Show" and "No Buy".

We are still selling out the stadium (for now).  The big issue is students who buy but who do not show up.  Since the only way you can get student tickets is season tickets, you are getting a lot of students who only want to go to the big games who are buying tickets to all the games.  

There is not an efficient way for students to sell the tickets they don't want, so they eat them.  Yes the AD still gets the revenue from the student season tickets, but it loses lucrative consession revenue.

The AD should either make single game tickets available to students (at a premium for big games), or make it easier for students to sell back/re-sell the tickets they don't want (for a fee).  Everyone wins.

 

MichiganG

March 3rd, 2014 at 8:29 PM ^

Not disagreeing with your general concept, but there is also a "no buy" problem in that the number of student tickets sold is down significantly, too, and has led to a contraction in the student section. The solutions proposed may help address both, but may not.

radfan5

March 3rd, 2014 at 1:58 PM ^

keep talking about the lousy home schedule, and this yeat that is very true, but normally there are a few cupcakes on the schedule going as far back as i can remember. To me anyway its the priices they are charging for the cupcake game that is the larger problem.

Callahan

March 3rd, 2014 at 2:19 PM ^

I hereby restate and incorporate every post/argument/allegation and assertion I've made in the dozens of previous threads on this topic into this one.

bronxblue

March 3rd, 2014 at 2:23 PM ^

At some point, I think everyone just needs to accept that students won't come to crappy home games with lots of draconian rules in place when they can sit at their parties and get a better view of the game on a 70" screen and all the trappings of home.  I mean, I was at UM in the early 00's, and that was largely before people had nice TVs and HD picture, and you were still seeing students not show up for the crappy games.  Not every game needs to be UTL, but punishing people who show up and care about a sport is the easiest way to make them not come back.

PizzaHaus

March 3rd, 2014 at 2:24 PM ^

It's not complicated. The main thing is that we just aren't very good. More than ever, kids who aren't really hardcore football fans are willing to bail to get homework done. We just aren't the draw we used to be for you older dudes.

Stupidly increasing prices (wanna guess how much Bama students pay per game versus us?) is why there's a drop in sales. Loss of mystique around the team is why ticket holders don't always show for worse games.

And since our entire home slate next year is vulnerable to "welp, I should be studying instead," it's going to be bad.

PizzaHaus

March 3rd, 2014 at 2:27 PM ^

I'll also add markedly improved TV experience and annoying stadium policies as more issues in ticket holder non-attendance.

It can be hard to roll out of bed hungover and trudge 40 minutes to the stadium for general admission when you could watch it on your couch on a high def flat screen, especially when the weather sucks. I go, but I know kids who have to be dragged along and would rather just watch at home.

Snow Sucks

March 3rd, 2014 at 2:37 PM ^

I cannot stand the excuses I hear from students who don't show when they have tickets. Clearly there are some valid excuses to not attend, but most of the time they don't show, it's because they're unhappy with the product on the field, lazy, or just complete bandwagon fans.

PizzaHaus

March 3rd, 2014 at 4:07 PM ^

Uh, do you really think the majority of the student section is hardcore fans?

Half couldn't name more than a handful of players. That has ALWAYS been the case.

And I love calling kids who stay home to do work (the escuse I hear the most) "lazy," as if attending a football game in person is a greater responsiblity than school.

 

tbeindit

March 3rd, 2014 at 2:40 PM ^

In my opinion, there are a lot of things that are impacting this drop in attendance, or at least in the reality of the issue, a drop in showing up on time from students.  First, we have to accept that some of the aspects of student life have changed.  We have a lot of data showing that today's college students are busier than any generation of the past.  Along with this, the pressure of rising costs and debt pressures students to not only work more, but be more selective with their time and finances.  This doesn't give them an excuse, but it's important to view this issue through the lens of the students and not as an alum or administrator.  It's easy to look back and say you loved going to the games and wish you had attended more, but when you have a few papers to finish and have to work the remainder of the weekend, it's a lot harder to spend 4 hours on a Saturday attending the game.  This is one of the major reasons that I believe the students feel so misunderstood.

Second, the quality of the product has decreased.  No, I'm not talking about the play.  Sure, if Michigan was undefeated, I think we would see at least improved attendance, but that's not the issue here.  The "experience" of attending games has been decreasing.  Rant to me all you want about Michigan football, etc., but with the addition of things like TV timeouts, extensive lines, and increased prices, it's hard to see how you are getting more value than you did in years past.  Can alums even say they're getting more value?  The scheduling here also has to play a factor, with the vast majority of games being against horrible opponents.  It's hard to argue that an increase in prices has meant an increase in the quality of the product.  Also, you at least have to recognize that the experience at home has grown tremendously in the last 20 years, especially with high definition and BTN.  You don't have to necessarily go to either see the game or have a great time.

Finally, people need to accept that the general admission plan has been a complete and utter failure.  Whether you believe this was in the implementation of the policy or in the policy itself, this policy has failed.  Students hate the policy and it's certainly a factor in these numbers.  I have been told directly by students that they didn't buy tickets specifically due to this new policy and have been told by others that they deliberately show up late to avoid the lines.  Whether it's just improving the wait times or scanning, something has to change.

Overall, I think you are seeing a great deal of factors finally coming together and truly hitting the attendance.  The general public's attendance has largely withstood some of these factors, but I think that's a ticking timebomb too.  In my opinion, the best solution is to focus on each of the factors together.  Make the experience better, make it easier on students, and pick a policy that's not going to make every student furious.  It's easy to say, "lower prices and people will come," but I don't think that's the issue here.  I've personally witnessed many students have tickets and simply not go to either work on homework or simply because they didn't feel like going.  This will sound bad to diehard Michigan fans, but it's reality, not everybody is THAT obsessed with the team.  However, look at the games people did show up on time.  Both night games got incredible attendance.  Why?  Because people viewed it as a can't miss event.  The experience is what got people to show up, not because of some ticket policy or season record.  Make the experience better and help the other factors and maybe you can at least slow down this rising tide.

Don

March 3rd, 2014 at 3:10 PM ^

of getting rid of the troughs in the men's rest rooms. Bring back the troughs, and the students will come back in droves.

GoBlueUSMC

March 3rd, 2014 at 3:38 PM ^

Have a shuttle that takes people from central campus to the stadium.  Should help alleviate the "I'm tired and the weather is crappy excuse".

Give any full time students free tickets to all home football games.  However, cap the # of students that can show up on these non tradeable, non refundable, non transferable tickets to 10,000.  First come first serve for seats.

goblue20111

March 3rd, 2014 at 3:46 PM ^

The shuttle is not the problem.  It takes 20 minutes max to get from anywhere on Central Campus to the stadium.

The tired/weather excuse comes from you know standing around for 3 hours in either absurdly hot weather or frigid temps.  Longer due to the new GA policy if you wanna get good seats and sit with your friends. 

Your idea makes no sense.  Give anyone a free ticket but limit to 10,000? So what happens to rest, pay on the spot? Camp out and wait to be one of the 10,000? Preposterous.  It's a damn football game.  It's entertainment -- there's no moral imperative to go.  

GoBlueUSMC

March 3rd, 2014 at 3:51 PM ^

If you're not entertained by the game don't attend?  People camp out for basketball tickets all the time.

The limit of 10k is only to ensure that students who truly wish to attend the game and sit in the student section are allowed seats.  This should also help with attendance during the early part of games.

Bando Calrissian

March 3rd, 2014 at 6:15 PM ^

10,000 tickets is less than a quarter of the total university enrollment, and rougly only 1.5 times the size of the freshman class alone. Yes, not everyone buys tickets, but there are definitely far more than 10,000 who would ordinarily buy tickets--if the product and experience matched their expectations. Which, apparently, it doesn't.

In other words, it's not about capping the size, but rather being able to convince students that actually using their tickets is a worthwhile use of their money and time.

At the end of the day, Michigan Football is about the students, right? Athletics seems determined to rather transparently put the emphasis on donors, forgetting that without a university and its students, they wouldn't have DB's precious "brand." Putting the students on blast is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.