John U. Bacon on seat licenses, Athletic Department profits, and fan loyalty.

Submitted by Wave83 on December 14th, 2012 at 9:23 AM

Here is the latest blog post from John Bacon, discussing the new seat licenses, the "business" of sports, and fan loyalty.  I have to say I agree with him completely.  I also remember the very same "old days" he describes at the Stadium.



December 14th, 2012 at 12:42 PM ^

That it's never been true-


n the fall of 1905, Stanford University President David Starr Jordan, wrote a series of articles in Collier's making allegations of "professionalism" at several universities, including Michigan, Chicago and Wisconsin. Jordan described Fielding Yost as the "czar of Michigan's system" and accused him of traveling across the country "soliciting expert players" who were not true student athletes.......The controversy surrounding college football continued in December 1905, as Eastern football expert Casper Whitney wrote that the problems at Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin were due to "crooked alumni, flabby facilities, and coaches looking for reputations," and asserted that if Pattengill of Michigan, Vann Hise of Wisconsin and Northrop of Minnesota "had any backbone such conditions would not exist."


lexus larry

December 14th, 2012 at 10:42 AM ^

We've crossed the line some time ago on the "sold out" compared to actual butts in seats, and are rapidly approaching (for lack of a better example) JLA style crowds...where the announced crowd is significantly greater than actual attendance (witness most of the home basketball games as yet this season).

In my professional life, tickets are proffered for a variety of sporting events.  This past football season, 4 tickets were offered in Section 1 (not THAT Section 1) for the Illinois game in the rain, and in the end zone for the Iowa game.  Empty corporate owned seats, along with empty corporate owned parking spots, will make more frequent appearances, for all but the most desirable of games.  This is not a blip, and won't stop, as long as the scheduling is weak for both football and mens basketball.

What would be interesting is to be the proverbial fly on the wall around the end January 2013, if the request for revised seating/PSD's into the end zone seats overwhelms the actual number of seats the end zone seat areas then expand into the current blue zones?  What if those carrying 4 seats in Maize, Blue, Valiant or Victors sections reduce to 2 or 3 seats instead?

Inelastic, meet elastic!

Section 1

December 14th, 2012 at 11:22 AM ^

When a friend told me about MGoBlog years ago, I thought, "How can I remember yet another University of Michigan user name and password?  I've got so many; all I can remember is what is on my ticket... Section, Row, Seat numbers."

This is, for me, the money quote from Bacon:

But none of this solves my problem, the same one thousands of longtime fans are facing: Will I shell out $700 for my two seat licenses? Yeah, I probably will. And they know it.

But for the first time since I plunked down two-bucks for a student ticket forty years ago, I feel less like a loyal fan, and more like a fool. And that doesn’t feel good. 



December 14th, 2012 at 10:55 AM ^

"I’ll be on with Robin Young, the great hostess of WBUR-Boston's “Here and Now” — which runs on 170 NPR stations, including Michigan Radio, or you can get it on — LIVE, Friday, from 12:40-12:50 p.m., to discuss my commentary on the sham that is the modern college football bowl system. And yes, there WILL be a quiz! (Okay, maybe not.)"


December 14th, 2012 at 11:51 AM ^

The reality is that the NFL makes $9 billion a year. The NBA makes over $4 billion. The NHL makes nearly $3 billion. Now, a great many of us will say (as Bacon has previously) that college sports are "different" and "special", but to people like Brandon (and it's not just him, he has counterparts at all the universities who can afford to get away with this stuff) who are paid a shitload of money to make even more money the only special difference is that instead of player salaries, their only expenses are women's golf. 

What we're just starting to see are the cracks in the edifice of college sports. If we're to accept that this "non-profit entity" is also going to be the proprietor of what is essentially an NFL development team, we can't then decry the idea that we have to pay NFL type prices to see their games. The fiction that the Michigan Wolverines have anything to do with the University of Michigan beyond the constraints of the current system is rapidly falling apart.

My hope for the future is that we follow the soccer model, exemplified by UNAM Pumas and University College Dublin AFC, wherein the university or the alumni association owns a stake of the resulting Michigan Wolverines Football, Ltd. (et al.). Because that's where this eventually ends up, especially once the whole "amateur athletes" bubble finally pops and the top 68 schools do ditch the NCAA. 


December 14th, 2012 at 12:39 PM ^

So do you see the future as the "wolverines" as a university based farm club to the NFL? We cant truly follow the club soccer model since there are no divisions with relegation and promotion. The "wolverines" could never be promoted to the first division and I don't see the NCAA having tiered conferences based on win/loss records although it would be interesting as hell!

My Euro friends are always amazed that Americans pack stadiums and pay to see "minor league" university football. The equivalent sports in other parts of the world are more akin to our club sports - some good talent but nobody really follows it like they do for the pros, and certainly not paying big bucks to see it.

Until universities do ditch the NCAA, we have a broken system with no rational rules governing it.



December 14th, 2012 at 3:30 PM ^

I don't think we'll ever see a pro/rel system in this country. I think it's antithetical to the way Americans see sports and outside of a vocal but tiny internet minority I don't think there's any appetite to see something like that here (ie. Brian's comment in yesterday's UV about how great it would be if the Lions kept being demoted down to a pub league level came off a bit tone deaf to anyone who really loves the NFL, I'd imagine). 

What I do expect, though, is that in time the power conferences till break away from the NCAA. That's the logical endgame for all of this conference shuffling. And when that happens, there will be a lot of questions that need to be addressed. Like, why aren't these football teams semi-pro at the least? And why are we keeping up the farce of people like Marquise Slocum (not to pick on him, but it's the obvious go to) and Maurice Claret being "college students"? At that point, there is only one logical way to go forward: with the 68 major teams transitioning into a Canadian Hockey League-esque semi pro organization affiliated with, but in no way representing, various universities. Would those 110,000 people not show up on Saturdays if they were watching the football equivalent of the London Knights, only in this case owned in part by the University? I believe they would. 


December 14th, 2012 at 1:13 PM ^

I was just thinking about this the other day. Peopler refer to them as simply ''Michigan''. Not 'the University of Michigan, just Michigan. I realize it's been this way for a long time and it's that way for every college football team, but I finally started thinking about what that means.  People not even affiliated with the university come on saturdays to cheer for their ''team''. So when you think about it, it is essentially a pro team.