Evil Genius Brandon to jack Bball Ticket Prices at Crisler

Submitted by StephenRKass on February 29th, 2012 at 9:54 AM

As Brian wryly commented yesterday about phase two of the Crisler renovations

The renovations will be completed just in time for no one to be able to afford tickets.

There are some details over at the Detroit News on this (Link:) coming Crisler highway robbery at the hands of evil genius Dave Brandon.

The headline says it all:

Michigan fans to pay more for prime seats at Crisler Center

Some of the details:

Season-ticket holders looking to reserve seats in the lower bowl and eastern and western portions of the upper bowl facing center court will have to pay anywhere from $50-$7,500 per seat in what athletic department officials call a "personal seat donation" to secure their spot for the 2012-13 season and earn points for priority seating.

Points are given on a matrix of factors, including alumni status, varsity letter status, donations to the university, and consecutive years of holding season tickets.

However, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that heavy hitters in donations will basically snap up all lower bowl and sideline seats not given to students. And they only go back in years of season tickets to 1992-1993 (ironically, the middle of the Fab Five era/debacle.) Held tickets since the 80's or before? That's nice . . . so what.

A bone is thrown to those who can't afford a "personal seat donation:"

There are several sections in Crisler exempt from the new policy: Sections 201, 202, 208 through 220, 226 and 227.

And just where might those sections be, you ask? You don't have to be a genius to figure out that those sections are upper bowl seats behind the baskets.

I don't know what to say. I'll always be a Michigan fan, but pretty much from more and more of a distance.

Comments

snoopblue

February 29th, 2012 at 10:52 AM ^

Crisler is a second tier atmosphere when compared to OSU, MSU, IU, PU, even Illinois. For the big games, yeah it gets wild in there, but for a normal Big Ten game against a conference basement dweller, its pretty dead. The thing is, whenever Michigan comes to town, it's usually a big deal, even if we aren't that good. It's just the name, I mean, we're Michigan fergodsakes.

Section 1

February 29th, 2012 at 10:52 AM ^

I wonder about this.  I'll learn the details about specific seats and PSD prices soon enough, but I know a few season ticket holders who have really prime seats in the first few rows near center court.  many of them are former basketball team and football team members, loyal Victors Club and Presidents Club members, who have given a lot to the University over the years.  They mostly all have football tickets, and are paying seat donations for football already.

Brandon can say, if he chooses; This is how we do things; we charge more for prime seats and that is how we fund facilities improvements.  The marketplace will rule; we are going to charge what the market will bear, for the good of the program.

So I have two large levels of doubt about all of this.  One is that I wonder how much Brandon will be able to jack up basketball PSD's.  Will he actually find people to pay?  I have real doubts.  I think Brandon is going to drive out a lot of some of the most loyal Michigan fans in existence.  Who will he find, who will actually pay?  We'll see.

The second is what will be lost, outside of the arena, when you lose all of the older, extremely loyal fans who have had season tickets for many decades, some of them since Crisler was built (I know a few of those people).  They support the University and other teams, in a wide variety of ways, apart from the basketball program through tickets.

Section 1

February 29th, 2012 at 11:28 AM ^

Do personal stories help make the case?  I don't know, but here is one.

So, I know a guy -- Michigan grad... Michigan Dental school grad... Michigan dental school adjunct faculty... former basketball player, Captain of his team in his senior year at Michigan... president of his class... season ticket holder since Crisler was brand new... continuous season ticket holder since forever (I honestly don't knonw; he might have had basketball tickets at Yost!)... season football ticket holder for 50 years... Victors Club points galore... Presidents Club member...

He has some really great tickets, given that pretty obvious status.  He loves basketball, he loves the team, he supports the team and the University as much as anybody reasonably could. He goes to most of the home games, and he's gone to them in good times and bad.

He is retired, and I feel pretty certain that he won't pay a big PSD for his current seats.  I feel pretty certain that he WILL be hammered with a big PSD.  He will be a fan who will be driven out if this plan doesn't have any accomodations for fans like him.  I think the University and the Athletic Department is losing invaluable institutional knowledge and tradition. 

There are alternatives; grandfathering current season ticket holders; graduating the cost of the PSD based on other factors like Victors Club points, others that I am probably not thinking of.

Section 1

February 29th, 2012 at 12:13 PM ^

But I also know that you and I both have nothing whatsoever about families of four from Grand Rapids.

Your point is very well-taken.

Do you think (does anybody think) that families of four from Grand Rapids will go to all of the school-night games in Decmeber versus Coastal Carolina?  Will that family be doing anything else for the University besides writing PSD checks?

Now, I want that family of four to be able to go to Crisler.  This isn't about keeping anybody 'out.'  It is only about the delicate balance of maximizing revenue while generating and maintaining exceptional loyalty.

jmblue

February 29th, 2012 at 12:16 PM ^

He is retired, and I feel pretty certain that he won't pay a big PSD for his current seats. I feel pretty certain that he WILL be hammered with a big PSD.

Why are you certain? Diehard fans (and he certainly sounds like one) can't be priced out of attendance easily. Back in 1997 we charged $27 per football ticket - everywhere in the stadium! In some parts of the stadium, ticket prices have increased tenfold (when you factor in the donation), and yet people keep buying them. Diehard fans may bitch about price increases, but when push comes to shove, they almost always pay up. Their obsession to the team makes them a captive audience.

It's more the casual fan - the guy who sort-of cares but doesn't feel compelled to attend - that gets priced out when PSDs come in.

Jon06

February 29th, 2012 at 12:38 PM ^

i'm sufficiently pissed at brandon's greed and the exploitation of students that i'm sitting with my parents next year instead of buying my own additional tickets for football. so instead of them bringing friends to every game, it'll just be us. since my ticket would have been a student ticket, it's probably a net positive for the university if i don't buy tickets in the short term. but eventually my parents will die and their monetary loyalty will not be replaced by mine unless there's a big change between now and then.

jmblue

February 29th, 2012 at 12:54 PM ^

You say this now, in February, but when push comes to shove you'll end up paying up.  

To the diehard fan, this is more than a commodity.  Following a team becomes almost a religious obligation.  You can argue that it's exploitative for fans to be squeezed like this - and that they're stupid for going along with it - but fandom is not rational.

Jon06

February 29th, 2012 at 1:10 PM ^

told my parents in october i was sitting with them next year. my wife already sat with them last year, because the athletic department now refuses to sell spousal tickets, even at full price, to married students, so there's no way to get her next to me without defrauding the university by using another student's UMID to get her a student ticket, which i won't do. (the fact that the university's policies are so stupid that the ticket office actually recommends that i solve the problem by so defrauding the university is, um, interesting.)

edit: or are you saying i'll pay up in the long run? probably also no there, as i'm not inclined to travel to pay extra to an ungrateful institution to see games i can just watch on tv once i no longer live in MI.

bringthewood

February 29th, 2012 at 1:37 PM ^

My Dad had 4 near center court tickets about row 8 or 10 (the last row of the temporary seats) since Crisler opened in 1969.  Several years ago they reconfigured seats to bring students to the sidelines and he lost those seats because he did not pay the required fee.  They did allow him to keep 2 seats nearby without a fee as I remember and got 2 got moved into the upper bowl about 1/2 way up on the sidelines.

They have touble selling tickets to many of the games today so hopefully Brandon will tread lightly.  I do see guys like Al Glick (the guy who donated for the football practice facility) on the sidelines that will pay whatever is needed but don't think there are a ton of wealthy die hard M BB fans.  The diehard BB fans I see are old and remember the glory years of the 70's and 80's so I'm not sure how this will play out.

I don't have season tickets because the driver from suburbia is a pain in the add during the week in the Winter so I just buy on the secondary market for peanuts for the cheap games.  They have to market the hell out of the games to even sell them out, not sure how successful PSD's will be.

Section 1

February 29th, 2012 at 1:48 PM ^

Several years ago they reconfigured seats to bring students to the sidelines and he lost those seats because he did not pay the required fee. They did allow him to keep 2 seats nearby without a fee as I remember and got 2 got moved into the upper bowl about 1/2 way up on the sidelines. 

For sure, the Athletic Department lost a lot of revenue from prime seats devoted to student seating.  Wouldn't that be an interesting question -- ask the kids sitting in the Maize Rage seats what sort of PSD they'd be willing to fork over?  $1000 per seat, per year, plus the cost of the tickets?  $2000?  $2500?  More? 

StephenRKass

February 29th, 2012 at 11:08 AM ^

I have mixed feelings. Personally, of course I could afford a seat license of a couple hundred a year, assuming the tickets themselves weren't exorbitant. And one way to make this work is to buy season tickets with a friend or two, and to split out the games you go to. As said immediately above, if I lived in AA, I'd rather go to 5 or so games with a great team, than to all the games with a mediocre team. If you had 3 tickets with two friends, you could each go to at least five games with family members, and it would be affordable. Some games, each of you would go, and your family loses out.

To have a good team, you have to have decent facilities, and to invest in what it takes to succeed. Potential recruits look at those things.

I guess my concern is that there be some way to reward loyal fans who are in an average socioeconomic strata. Who knows what average actually is, but I hope you get my drift. Someone who makes somewhere between 30 & 70,000 a year should be able to go to some games, especially if they've been loyal for many years.

There was an article at ESPN about this phenomena in the NFL. I don't know about the Detroit Lions, but for the Bears where I live, and for the Patriots, it has become exorbitant to go to a single game. To take my son (forget about my wife and daughters) to a game will easily run more than $400, once you include parking, food and drink, and the tickets. That's a bit rich for my blood.

I know there is a price for success. I'm not bitter, but I realize that my money will go elsewhere. We all have different financial realities and priorities.

momo

February 29th, 2012 at 11:15 AM ^

The crowd makeup will change over time. Fewer regulars, fewer "regular folk".

Whether that's a bad thing or not depends on what you think the point of supporting a sports team (or indeed a University) is.

It's certainly clear that right now the "support" is a one-way street.

Tater

February 29th, 2012 at 11:14 AM ^

There are four things you can always count on David Brandon to do:

1.  Throw his weight around.

2.  Take credit for anything anyone "under him" acheives, while deflecting all blame for his own decisions.

3.  Raise prices.

4.  Increase advertising.

That's just the way it is with David Brandon.  I don't agree with most of what he has done so far, but both major teams are winning.  I don't live in Ann Arbor anymore and don't go to the games, so his decisions haven't affected me in the least.  If I still lived in Ann Arbor, though, and was paying more money to sit through more advertising, and saw nothing but more of both on the horizon, I would be extremely pissed instead of mildly irritated.

At this point, Brandon has set the course for the University of Michigan athletic department.  It is going to cost a lot of money to attend games, and you will have to tolerate more advertising.  Whether you see it as greed or simply evolution, it is in Ann Arbor to stay.  

My biggest fear is that he will one day make it more difficult for students to attend games, or do away with the Maize Rage and go back to a seating arrangement more like that in football, where students get one corner of the arena and the good seats go to whoever wants to "donate" the most money.  

The NCAA has been adamant that games are "all about the students" over the years, even when their actions indicate otherwise.  Also, it could be said that the students are "donating" more money to the University than anyone who is sitting at center court or the fifty yard line.  

If David Brandon wants to treat the general public like a display of debits and credits on a spread sheet, it is his right.  I vehemently disagree with most of what he does, but he has the right to run the business like a business.  There is, however, one major exception:  I would like to see him treat students who attend games as one of the cornerstones upon which college athletics is built.  

Because, really, if students aren't collectively one of the cornerstones of college athletics, then why is the NCAA even going through the motions of pretending that they are?

MLaw06

February 29th, 2012 at 12:38 PM ^

I totally understand how you feel.  But the reality is someone has to pay.  This means that if the state of Michigan keeps cutting the amount of money that gets appropriated to the state schools, then alums will need to step up with their paychecks.  Or David Brandon will need to go solicit cash from corporations, advertisers, widget manufacturers, etc. 

As an AD, his job is to grow the "brand" of Michigan Athletics and to balance the checkbook. 

Michigan Athletics is not a cheap venture.  Hoke, gets a few mil a year and you know that's not being covered by student ticket prices.  Nor is he (or any decent coach) willing to take less salary. 

I get your frustration though with how college sports are becoming more like pro sports.... But I feel like we can't fight the rising tides of the ocean.  We can only learn to swim better and faster than all others.

Go Blue!

Jon06

February 29th, 2012 at 3:30 PM ^

but you're missing the point, especially since your platitudes don't recommend paying hoke so much. he's paying more than he has to for hoke. so the marginal cost of paying hoke as much as we're paying him exceeds the marginal gains in whatever form.

that's the truth! because the AP tests that got me out of baby econ told me so.

anyway, i'd rather we paid him less, which would reportedly have no effect on the job he does, and treated alumni and students less like sources of money and nothing more in exchange. and so on for other "expenses" wherever that's a code word for overpaying already highly paid people for no actual reason.

funandgun

February 29th, 2012 at 11:14 AM ^

My parents have season tickets to Clemson games.  They pay 10k a year for the right to buy good tickets.  They have a group called IPTAY, which is very active on campus.  It originally stood for I Pay Ten A Year...I think now it is I Pay Thousands a Year....but there were hundreds of people at the IPTAY event we attended with them before a football game this fall.  This is how the athletic departments have the money to do huge improvements like we are currently undertaking.   

The money is used for facilities, scholarships and other expensive items you need to run a first rate program.  It is what it is, but it does cost a bunch to run a great national program. 

 

Section 1

February 29th, 2012 at 4:00 PM ^

Or football too?  If it is football and basketball, then it may be reasonable by Michigan's standards.

Compare:

Four seats in "Victors" seating areas in Michigan Stadium = $2000/year + cost of tickets.  Parking in the Blue Lot = 390 Victors Club points or $20,000/year unrestricted giving (Champions Lot).  Now, Four basketball seats in lower bowl near center court = $6000/year (estimate) + cost of tickets. 

That's $8,000 without parking and $28,000 with parking.  Per year.  Every year.

jsimms

February 29th, 2012 at 11:28 AM ^

I understand that the primary [but not the only] goal of this athletic department is to maximize revenue.  Therefore, while I don't like it when ticket prices go up, I acknowledge that the university has the right to charge what the market will bear.  What irks me is the way the university tries to have it both ways, by talking about the "Michigan family" and other statements that imply that the university has some sort of emotional bond with its fans and alumni.  I actually don't mind being a customer, [customers are entitled to a fair price, good service, etc.,] i just ask the school not to pretend that I am anything other than a source of revenue.    

MLaw06

February 29th, 2012 at 12:17 PM ^

Being part of a family has certain benefits AND responsibilities.  Just like in a regular family, each person has to step-up, i.e., kids have to do chores before they watch tv.  Or in this case, alums have to donate cash to get tix.  This is more evident at a private school (where they never let you forget your responsibilities and obligations to the school) but even public schools need assistance in order to keep up with the joneses. 

That's family.

bringthewood

February 29th, 2012 at 1:45 PM ^

I call bullshit.  Michigan is great at taking but not so good at giving.  You will find out when your kid is trying to get accepted (btw mine did) and the University treats you like crap regardless of past donations.  They like to pretend to be a private school when asking for donations but then have amnesia when it comes time for them to give back.  

The same for tickets.  I understand the need for revenue and don't have a problem with PSD's but at least give some credit to the season ticket holders who have shown the loyalty for the crappy BB product they have fielded for more than a decade.  "Thanks for the loyalty, where is your $7,500?"

 

MLaw06

February 29th, 2012 at 12:09 PM ^

The benefit of priority points is that it is way more transparent.  Pay more; get more.

The only ones who should be complaining are those who take the "standard deduction" for taxes.  Then you don't even get a deduction for your donations.  In that case, you probably shouldn't donate and use the extra money to pick off the few tix you want on StubHub...  Or get a better job (or a second job.... or a third job).  J/K

MLaw06

February 29th, 2012 at 1:57 PM ^

The elephant in the room that no one talks about is that any system based on "senoirity" - i.e., seats passed down from generation to generation - perpetuates (inadvertent) racism.   

The reality is that Michigan (and almost all other colleges) was almost entirely white 50 or 60 years ago.  Rewarding the older generation in perpetuity without exacting any additional costs from them is (unintentionally) racist because it rewards certain demographics over others.  Case in point, if you look at this year's graduating class, it would look entirely different than the graduating class from 50 years ago. 

Therefore, at least if a system is based on cash, at least it is transparent with respect to which demographic it benefits. 

oHOWiHATEohioSTATE

February 29th, 2012 at 12:28 PM ^

this will actually help you obtain better seats to the few games a year you attend. Less people will probably buy season tickets so what is not sold will come available for single game purchase.

ClearEyesFullHart

February 29th, 2012 at 12:57 PM ^

     But I only missed a couple of home games this year.  A bunch of them were $5 tickets, many $10-15.  I've always thought it was rather stupid to get season tickets.  I'd rather mix it up with cheapies and good seats throughout the season.

     What benefit is there from buying them at once?

StephenRKass

February 29th, 2012 at 3:12 PM ^

Back in the day, mid-80's, I had season tickets. This insured good seats, and there was fairly high demand at that time (seeded in the top 1 or 2 in the NCAA's.) I could always give tickets away, and I had a pair so I could invite a friend, or a date, or bring along a the kid of a friend. It was definitely worth it. But they were certainly cheap.

cozy200

February 29th, 2012 at 1:01 PM ^

Where does all of the merchandising, tv, vendor, ticket, corporate box ownership money go? You can not tell me those millions of dollars every year from all those walmarts selling schwag gets spent on tennis balls and softball helmets right?