The Real Reasons Why Students — and Others — are Bailing on Michigan Football Tickets

By John U. Bacon on June 14, 2014 at 8:15a
52 Comments

Originally published on the author's blog. Reprinted here with the author's permission.

Last week, the Michigan athletic department admitted what many had long suspected: student football ticket sales are down, way down, from about 21,000 in 2012 to a projected 13,000-14,000 this fall.

The department has blamed cell phones, high-definition TV, and a sweeping national trend – but those don’t tell the whole story.

How’d Michigan lose so many students so fast?  Answer: a lot of hard work.

Athletic Director Dave Brandon has often cited the difficulty of using cell phones at Michigan Stadium as “the biggest challenge we have.”  But when Michigan students were asked in a recent survey to rank seven factors for buying season tickets, they ranked cell phones seventh — dead last.

What did they rank first?  Being able to sit with their friends.

But Brandon did away with that last year, with his new General Admission seating policy.  Instead of seating the students by class — with the freshmen in the endzone and the seniors toward the fifty, as they had done for decades – last year it was first come, first served.  (They also raised the price to $295 for seven games, up from $195 for six games the year before.)  The idea was to encourage students to come early, and come often.  Thousands of students responded by not coming at all.

This was utterly predictable – and I predicted it, 13 months ago.

(This is probably as good a place as any to say, No, this is not about the department pulling my press pass.  It’s not personal.  It’s about misguided decisions and long-term consequences.)

TV networks loved showing blimp shots of the sold-out Big House – one of the iconic sights in college football.  Now they don’t show any.

Working with student government leaders, the athletic department revised the policy for the 2014 season.  But it was apparently too little, too late, as some 6,000 Michigan students decided to drop their tickets anyway.

“We know who our competitor is. Your 60-inch, high-definition TV.”

Insult to injury: college teams now play their biggest rivals on Thanksgiving weekend, when most Michigan students have gone home.  If the students don’t love college football now, when it’s half-price, will they love it more when they’re paying twice that, plus a Personal Seat License?

“We know who our competitor is,” Brandon often says.  “Your 60-inch, high-definition TV.”

If that’s true, maybe they shouldn’t have increased seat prices by an average of $100 each since Brandon took over.  Perhaps they should stop charging six bucks for a hot dog, five bucks for popcorn, and four dollars for water.  Maybe they should stop showing ads between plays on the big screens for corporate receptions at Michigan stadium, which start at $9,000.  Fans can get all those things at home for less, including the ads.  They can only get the marching band at the big house.

Survey after survey points the finger for lower attendance not at cell phone service or high definition TV, but squarely at the athletic department and college football itself.  Fans are fed up paying steakhouse prices for junk food opponents — and junk food itself — while enduring endless promotions.  The more college football caters to the TV audience at home, the more fans paying to sit in those seats feel like suckers.

Brandon said, “We all think of every home Michigan football game like a miniature Super Bowl.”

I don’t know any Michigan fans who think that.  Quite the opposite, they think Michigan football games are the antidote for the artificial excess of the Super Bowl.

As I wrote in “Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football, in 2005, then-athletic director Bill Martin commissioned a survey which revealed more than 50-percent of Michigan season ticket holders had been buying them for more than two decades, but onlynine-percent of them also bought season tickets to any professional team.  This tells us a basic truth: Michigan football fans don’t just love football.  They love Michigan football—the history, the traditions, the rituals — the timeless elements that have grown organically over decades.  They are attracted to the belief that Michigan football is based on ideals that go beyond the field, do not fade with time, and are passed down to the next generation — the very qualities that separate a game at the Big House from the Super Bowl. 

After the 2013 Notre Dame game, Brandon said, “You’re a 17-18 year old kid watching the largest crowd in the history of college football with airplanes flying over and Beyonce introducing your halftime show? That’s a pretty powerful message about what Michigan is all about, and that’s our job to send that message.”

Beyonce is to Michigan football what Bo Schembechler is to — well, Beyonce.

Is that really what Michigan is all about?  Fly-overs, blaring rock music, and Beyonce?  Beyonce is to Michigan football what Bo Schembechler is to — well, Beyonce.  No, Michigan is all about lifelong fans who’ve been coming together for decades to leave a bit of the modern world behind – and the incessant marketing that comes with it – and share an authentic experience fueled by the passion of the team, the band and the students.  That’s it.

In his speeches, Brandon often mentions he was the CEO of three Fortune 500 companies.  Then why doesn’t he know his customers, and what they want?

Yes, the department has always followed basic business practices.  But it has never been run strictly as a business — until now.  The proof is the wait list, which former athletic director Don Canham grew by the thousands.  Canham was a millionaire businessman in his own right.  If he wanted to “maximize revenue,” he knew he could increase the price to meet demand.  But he didn’t, because he believed that would dispel the magic.

Brandon’s predecessor, Bill Martin, another self-made millionaire, introduced Personal Seat Licenses to the Big House, but only after the nation’s next 19-biggest stadiums had already done so.  Even then, the PSL program was relatively moderate, he spared the fans in the endzones, and he lowered ticket prices after the 2008 recession. Michigan’s wait list remained robust.

“Just because you can charge them more,” Martin told me, “doesn’t mean you should.  You’re not there to ring up the cash to the nth degree.  It’s a nonprofit model!”

Again, from Fourth and Long: In Brandon’s first three years, he increased the operating budget from $100 million to $137.5.  That does not include the building program, last estimated at $340 million.  In Brandon’s defense, he also generated a $9 million surplus, and the buildings will benefit all Michigan’s teams, not just football and basketball.  But his budget also includes: his million-dollar salary, three times what Bill Martin paid himself, plus a $300,000 annual bonus –adding to a 62-percent increase in administrator compensation; a 225-percent increase in “marketing, promotions and ticketing”; and a 500-percent increase in “Hosting, Food and Special Events.”

I’ve come to believe it’s not scandal that will bring down college athletics, but greed.  How long can these numbers, fueled by increasingly unhappy fans, continue to skyrocket before they come crashing down to earth?

All that money comes from someone – and that someone is you, the fans.  Tickets used to be underpriced, and you knew that when you scalped them for more than you paid.  Now they’re overpriced, and you know that when you try to sell them through Michigan’s Official Scalper, Stubhub, and get far less.

The wait list is long gone.  They’ve been sending waves of emails to former ticket holders to assure them, “The deadline has been extended!”  Beg your former customers to come back five times, and you don’t have a deadline, and you don’t have a wait list.

This fall Michigan is in danger of breaking its string of 251-consecutive games with 100,000-plus paid attendance, which started in 1975.  Treat your fans like customers long enough, and eventually they’ll start behaving that way, reducing their irrational love for their team to a cool-headed, dollars-and-cents decision to buy tickets or not, with no more emotional investment than deciding whether to go to the movies.

This fall Michigan is in danger of breaking its string of 251-consecutive games with 100,000-plus paid attendance, which started in 1975.

After a friend of mine took his kids to a game, he told me, “Michigan athletics used to feel like something we shared.  Now it’s something they hoard. Anything of value they put a price tag on.  Anything that appeals to anyone is kept locked away—literally, in some cases—and only brought out if you pay for it.  And what’s been permanently banished is any sense of generosity.”

After Brandon became Michigan’s 11th athletic director in 2010, he has often repeated one of his favorite lines: “If it ain’t broke… break it!”

You have to give him credit: he has delivered on his promise.


John U. Bacon is the author of the national bestsellers Bo’s Lasting LessonsThree and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the Crucible of College Football and most recently, Fourth and Long: The Future of College Football. You can find him on Twitter at @Johnubacon.

52 Comments

Comments

Doc's picture

Excellent article!  Thank you Mr. bacon for sharing it with us.  In my opinion many of the places it said " Michigan" could be substituted for OSU.  College football is pricing itself out of existence and the universities are to greedy to see it. Once it is broken sometimes it is to late to fix it.

"Say my name."

+25 HS
xrox's picture

I agree with you completely. When people try to profit more off of college football than the ton that it already makes, that doesn't sit well with fans, students, and alums. College football isn't pizza. Nobody has an emotional attachment to Domino's. Domino's isn't a university that will shape and become part of your identity as a person.

I always regarded scalpers with a certain level of disgust. I felt the same way about OSU raising ticket prices for "premium" games. Sure, the athletic department could make more on those games. The appropriate response should have been "So what?" Leave the exploitation to the scalpers.

+1 HS
ISURVIVEDCOOPER's picture

They say winning solves a lot of problems, but once mistrust has been seeded - Good job Dave Brandon - I would guess that it would take about a generation or his firing to earn any trust back.

at some point, the president of the university has to be considering this, too

"I don't apologize for anything.  When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes

+4 HS
NatiBuck's picture

As a student I felt that very little of this article resonated with me. Far as I can tell attendance at Ohio State games hasn't dropped at all and games still have a very special feel about them that causes a unanimous excitement for everyone in attendance. feel free to disagree with me but from my perspective and the perspectives I feel that I have observed the problems described in this blog do not seem like something that is affecting Ohio State

+5 HS
buckeyes763's picture

The atmosphere is still different at OSU because the product we put on the field is far superior (or at least 1 point and many wins) than the product on the field up north. If the football teams performance dipped to a TSUN level and prices continued to increase, I'm sure we would see the same situation here (making the assumption TSUN fans are human like us).

I graduated from OSU two years ago, and can't convince myself to pay the money for a non-student priced ticket. Especially for Florida A&M. I miss the stadium and atmosphere but the ticket prices are trending very quickly toward the elitists.

+5 HS
Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

It's a universal problem - when out of touch  people tackle an intimate product.  Football  and spectacle are not the products here. But having a big business background, Brandon just can't fathom selling a grass roots, simple product that would sell itself if only he could de-modernize it enough. Brandon is completely wrong about competing against a HD TV.  

Gene Smith and OSU are only slightly more in tune with this, but still not enough. 

Read my entire screen name....

+1 HS
BroJim's picture

Bottom line, going to the Shoe costs too much money.

I season my simple food with hunger

+13 HS
buckeyedexter's picture

Brandon will squeeze every last dime he can out of scUM fans to maximize profits!  When he's alienated so many young fans or the passion just isn't there because they couldn't afford the high priced game day experience, the next generation wont go and the stadium will routinely sit half empty.  But Brandon wont care, buy then he'll be retired to his multimillion dollar beach house living the good life.

+2 HS
buckeyedude's picture

I think the gist of this article that I get is that students aren't going to the games because ticket prices are too high and games are too Beyoncé-commercialized. I'm not a student like Natibuck; not even close. But the thing that I think John is missing is that fact that it's cheaper/easier to watch the game on your 60" plasma HDTV(as Brandon said), where you can still get cell phone service AND, AND, AND the football team, led by an average to below average coach, has put a mediocre product on the field.

Seriously, how many [realistic]UM fans really believe they have a shot at the NC this fall? How many OSU fans feel we have a legitimate shot this year?

Bottom line: it still comes down to prices and the quality of the team on the field. I think UM's biggest problem is it's mediocrity in hiring coaches and the enivitable mediocre football teams. If this was OSU(thank God it's not), I think you would see the exact same thing.

There is a lesson to be learned here, and I hope Gene Smith is paying attention.

 

 

+4 HS
jpbuckeye's picture

I am surprised that this aspect was not considered. The quality of the product has a direct relationship to the demand.

+1 HS
ajbosu1's picture

The Beyoncé line is beyond stupid for someone in his position. Or anyone who is a fan of TTUN.

almost feel bad for their fans. 

+5 HS
buckeyeradar's picture

 

Just because you can charge them more,” Martin told me, “doesn’t mean you should.  You’re not there to ring up the cash to the nth degree.  It’s a nonprofit model!”

This is happening at a lot of universities across the nation.  What should have been a fan appreciation game (spring game) had a last minute price cut to save the day.  Just saying that a free spring game would have given Ohio State priceless PR.  Don't kill the Golden Goose please.  What happens at tsun can happen here as well.

 

Buckeye in Texas

+8 HS
GrayDay's picture

Great points, especially about what has made college football truly special, particularly up north and at OSU.  Its not just lineage of great football, but the now almost old-world traditions and how they reinforce emotional ties to our schools and states.  These are kind of getting lost as the programs seem increasingly tempted to create an NFL experience, despite claiming they are not pro teams.

Can't speak for that team up north, but think how important TBDBITL, The Ramp, Skull Session, and post game Carmen are to the game day experience.  Where do you even see that kind of thing anymore, except Ohio Stadium?  I do agree the crap schedules and rising prices are the biggest problem, but schools that genuinely try to embrace their students and communities, making them feel loved, will still do fine I think.  Props to Urban for doing things like inviting students in to observe practice (love seeing them trying to kick field goals with all the students around).  Being a student (and alumni) should get you special access and lower prices, its our school and our team after all.  Programs keep that in mind and they'll do well.  

+3 HS
Oldschoolbuck's picture

*Adopts old man's voice* Back when I was a student at the greatest university in the world, tickets were under $15 and you  had to stand in line at St. John's to obtain them - believe me, the line was loooong! *Drops old man voice* 

Yes, that was in the dark ages and inflation has certainly affected the price of everything, but $295 for 7 games?!?!! For students?!! Buckeyedude has a great point - the quality of team on the field is a significant problem for the Skunk Weasels right now, exceeding Beyoncé, corporatism and Brandon's blind stupidity (greed) IMO. Maybe they should charge a percentage of Jabba the Hoke's weight... Oh, never mind; that would make the ducats go for over $180 a pop! 

Hovenaut's picture

Full respect to John Bacon - this is an excellent article, great share.

Hate Week runneth over

+4 HS
UrbanPirate's picture

His book Three and Out (about the twisted mess of a hiring and screw job handed to RichRod) is a must read for any CFB fan, especially anyone who loves delving deep into the backward arrogance that is michigan athletics. The man holds no punches in his writing, that's for certain.

Just... Go Bucks.

    

+2 HS
Hovenaut's picture

Have yet to read 3&O, but did read Fourth and Long earlier this year and found that to be a great read, good look at OSU, PSU, NW and M...igan programs in transition.

Regardless of where he's from and who he roots for, it's easy to see the passion and clarity in his writing.

Hate Week runneth over

+1 HS
MN Buckeye's picture

Did we not just attempt to charge $20 for the spring game?

+10 HS
RBuck's picture

Yep; hopefully Gene Smith learned a lesson.

"It's just another case of there you are". ~ Doc (1918-2012)

+3 HS
MichaelJ721984's picture

$295 for students? Damn.   Fuck Michigan.

+4 HS
BuckeyeCrew's picture

In my opinion, Michigan will not go back on their pricing, and in fact, I think all of the "big-time" programs will shift towards seat-licensing and even more pronounced commercialization (referring to Beyonce and the like).  Even with the dip in ticket sales, the fact is that a new generation will come up who has never known differently, and they will buy the tickets.  Whether they be students and/or corporate entities, is beyond me, but this generational adaptation period is how it always seems to go.

+1 HS
Shangheyed's picture

Homers from day one... if they are not winning the walmart wolfies will stay home... maybe Sparty needs to make a Stadium expansion to take the overflow?

+1 HS
Jugdish's picture

At one time, I would have given my left nut to go to OSU to watch games. But today, I can proudly say that I still have my left nut and a HD 60 inch TV.

Remember to get your wolverine spayed or neutered. TBDBITL

+2 HS
hetuck's picture

OSU is not far behind on this issue. With regard to Natibuck, yes, the student allottment did sell out even with the expanded south stands. Kudos. But look at the difficulty the Alumni lottery is having. This is the canary in the coal mine. Will students sell out next year with no Michigan on the schedule? OSU is one step away from public sales, something unimaginable even five years ago (and I'm not talking about the sales the week of the game of returned visitor tickets.) Think about cost of attendance for a thousand scholarship athletes. A $100 stipend for ten months is an extra million. Where will that come from? Football tickets are at a tipping point. And remember, we're looking at six home games in 2016 with the advent of the nine game B1G schedule. That's $7M normally there that vanishes. Will expanded BTN revenue cover it? Hopefully. Will the new TV contract in 2017 cover it? Absolutely, but the price of athletics continues to rise. For every scholarship athlete from out of state, the Board of Trustees just raised their cost by 10% for this year. OSU and the B1G are lucky to be the last conference to negotiate their contract because live sports is the one thing keeping cable companies going.  

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

+3 HS
UrbanPirate's picture

Very well put, thank you for saying what so many are not thinking (nationally especially). Paying players sounds great, but lest we not forget that the great majority of athletic programs operate in the red already. So much more to worry about. Well said. 

Just... Go Bucks.

    

mr.green's picture

Here are a couple thoughts:

  • Lower prices for students to about half what they are now. 130 seems fair. 
  • Charge more for better seats and far less for C deck (and even less for D). That would bring more people to the shoe.
  • go back to telling alumni which game they will get, as they used to do. How can anyone plan to go to a game when you have no idea what game you are getting?
  • schedule better teams. This is critical.  Nine conference games will help. I love me some Maction but not at 80 bucks a pop. 

Students were allowed to buy two tickets this year and the alumni deadline was extended. Getting real close to a tipping point? Perhaps. You can't sing Carmen with the team or watch Script from your living room. 

I will be at 4 games this year because this team is fun to watch. Live 

 

Go Bucks. 

+3 HS
The Butler's picture

I’ve come to believe it’s not scandal that will bring down college athletics, but greed.  How long can these numbers, fueled by increasingly unhappy fans, continue to skyrocket before they come crashing down to earth?

Truth!

The "Average Joe" can't afford tickets to the games anymore. If, by some chance, he does go to the game, the price of concessions will bankrupt him. 

I've trained Canaries in the sport of falconry.

 

+2 HS
O-H-I-Owe-U's picture

I guess I'm an average Joe. I have three kids and there are just so many other things that demand our discretionary income. Hate to admit but I haven't been able to afford to get my family to a game. Going to bite the silver bullet this year and make it happen.

One factor for UM that Mr. Bacon didn't bring up is population. Ann Arbor only has around 115k residents.

+2 HS
Qujo's picture

UM's problem seems to be they took the fan out of the equation. To Brandon it is about share of wallet which is the typical way a business person would look at and he is trying to maximize it just as he would any business. That is where the rubber meets the road. In this situation, Brandon is no longer bringing the collegiate perspective to it but rather about branding and money. Yes OSU has done some of that, all schools do. The difference between Brandon and Smith and potentially UM's regents and OSU regents is that Smith is running it more as an athletic department approach with fund raising and trying to find ways to keep up with the costs and the jonses where Brandon is truly about the business model. That to me is the difference and the two are completely not the same albeit increase in prices.

That said, I live in Texas and make it to at least one home game a year and sometimes two. I still love the atmosphere at the Buckeye games, the fans coming together for a common cause. It costs a bit of coin, but I wouldn't miss it for the world. I miss the camaraderie and therefore and willing to pay for it (my choice). If that went away and it was just a business where the corporations take the good seats and we are left with the crappy choices for seats, then I would lose interest in the product because they no longer care about the fan. Texas Rangers for example, all the corporations have all the good seats they give to their clients and or their employees, For most it isn't about rooting for the Rangers, it is about having some place to give their clients an experience. It is a sterile environment with very little camaraderie except for some real fans at the game, but not the same as we get at the SHOE. No games are EVER sold out. Big difference between what that is and the experience I get at the Shoe. I can see Brandon moving towards the corporate model. that is how he thinks. Many schools would be envious of UM's cash flow, so I would worry about others following that model. Hopefully OSU can keep the fan first approach even if it costs a bit more year over year to keep up with rising costs.

"Tough times don't last, tough people do" - Gregory Peck

+2 HS
nikolajz1's picture

I really really hope Gene Smith was forwarded this article. The point about not charging for something despite the fact you can is the best. Arguably the best team in sports the last 5 years, Alabama, still only charges students 10 bucks a game to get in which is crazy. Lower prices= happier students= in the long term they are more likely to give back to the university with nice donations. Yeah you miss out on a few hundred bucks per kid, but like the article states, schools need to stop thinking in such short time spans. 

+4 HS
DCNick's picture

Exactly. Get as much money as you can out of the TV contracts, merchandise agreements and endorsements but don't do that when dealing directly with the fans.

+2 HS
otrain2416's picture

Oh man I wish I went to Ohio State. Their games look way more fun and students actually go to their games. -Every TSUN student.

+2 HS
DCNick's picture

At the Sunday farmer's market near my house there's a guy who sells eggs. The farmer's market lasts 4 hours but he sells out in about 45 minutes. Then he puts up a sign that says he's sold out and he sits there reading the paper for the next 3 hours. Over time people have started to line up before the market even opens just so they can get the eggs. He could increase the price but he doesn't. He has a devoted following and he knows that he's going to sell out rain or shine.

Tickets to football games should be sold the same way as the eggs. Price them so that they all go quick and people are excited to get a ticket to any game. It's ok if some ticket scalpers cash in. You don't ever want people to have to weigh whether or not the price is worth it.

+8 HS
741's picture

That guy should charge more. Clearly he is just trying to get 3 hours of peace away from his wife every Sunday.

+6 HS
teddyballgame's picture

Great article

I hope John's nickname is the "baconator"

+1 HS
jaxbuckeye's picture

As some have said, it's all about the team. People will pay a premium for winning. There is a limit with students, however. They can only pay so much. Brandon has failed miserably. 

+1 HS
cjmgobucks's picture

I got about two paragraphs into this article before I realized, no matter what, I can't read an article about m*^$#&!an

"When I look in the mirror, I want to take a swing at me."

Wayne Woodrow Hayes

-1 HS
Menexenus's picture

It's not an article about M*ch*g*n; it's an article about M*ch*g*n FAIL!  I could read those kinds of articles all day!

 

 

Real fans stay for Carmen.

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

OSU faces a lot of these same issues - cell phone usage in The Shoe is a struggle, it's cheaper to watch at home in HD, ticket prices have gone up, and a lot of the competition that comes in is "junk food".  So why doesn't OSU face these same issues?  Cause TTUN has kinda been junk food themselves in the past 7 or 8 years, bar 2011.  OSU would probably face the same issues with a run of 8 or less win seasons where they lost to TTUN 90% of the time.

Class of 2010.

+2 HS
Baroclinicity's picture

Great, great article. 

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

1stYrBuckIClub's picture

This is a great read, and I've always had the utmost respect for John U. Bacon (he will occasionally be on Bishop and Rothman on 97.1 The Fan). The most shocking thing I read in this article, surprisingly, was that The School Up North had withdrawn his press credentials. Someone that may have the best hold on the pulse (both past and present) of said school, and he's not given access that a beat writer is? 

+1 HS
tennbuckeye19's picture

This is the same guy that hired Brady Hoke and acted like he was his first and only choice for head coach.

+1 HS
ziplock007's picture

Michigan football hasn't been "Michigan Football" since they lost to Appalachian State to start off 2007.

Before Appalachian State, "Michigan Football" was a dominant force  in CFB... Then, in 2008, they lost the nations longest bowling streak (33 years) and the nations longest winning season streak (40 years).

While 2007 was a disappointment, the 2007-2013 stretch saw them plummet from a B1G powerhouse, to above average.  Going 1-5 vs Mich St. and Ohio State. Yeah, they did well in 2010; but one good year in 6 is mediocrity.

While OSU's 2010 season was a distraction laden disappointment... imagine if that became the standard for over half a decade?  Eventually you tire of saying "next year is the year" and wait for the excitement to come to you.

If uMich was OSU or Alabama, where every Nov 1st a trip to the title game was still in their grasps... there would be no issue selling out.  I was at the 2002 OSU-Mich game.  I was a "win and go to the finals" game... That was amazing, and I graciously would've paid an extra $100 for the opportunity.

 

PoKeY21's picture

Most Universities are just a notch behind Wall St, DC, some religious institutions, some defense attorneys, the NFL and the NCAA when it comes to greed. In 15-20 years when the "amateur" college football model has disappeared completely we will all know why: GREED! scUM is a prime example to use caution when trifling with fans.

When my time on earth is gone, and my activities here are passed, I want they bury me upside down, and my critics can kiss my ass - Robert Knight

73buckeye's picture

I think the most telling thing here is the philosophy "If it's not broken, break it." I saw the same thing in the people that now run the company I used to work for, a very successful 100 year old icon that seems to have lost respect for the institutions history  and real customers. It's all about embracing change, rather than identifying the problems that exist in a situation and fixing them, without discarding the good things earned over many years with the bad.  As much as I hate Michigan, I feel some sorry for them in that their leadership fails to recognize the difference between wholesale change and reform. I hope our leaders understand what's really important to OSU's success and the same thing it does not happen here.

ernie

+2 HS
Buckeyeneer's picture

Someone with a connection please forward this to Gene Smith.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

Blue Eyed Buckeye's picture
+1 HS
Joebobb's picture

I have been to 3 OSU/MICH games at the BIg house (as my only experience there) and 2 games in Columbus with my last game in 2005. Even in those "good times" for Mich there was always a sense the students would rather be doing other things and not interested as much in the game. This was not the case at Ohio State. The biggest thing I noticed was the ticket prices. We would always buy from a scalper before the game. In Columbus, we were lucky if we would get a ticket for less than 2 times face value 30 minutes before kickoff. At Michigan, we never paid above face value for a ticket and often purchased student tickets.  This was during the time when Michigan went to 3 Rose Bowls and won the Orange Bowl. You would figure the students would be living it up, but there was such lack of passion on the fan base.

I also think the excuse about the game being after Thanksgiving is not a legitimate one. The game has been played after Thanksgiving for a long time. In 2001, we sat in the Michigan student section and there were a ton of students who made the trip back from Thanksgiving for "the game". In the 1980's and early 90s "the game" was always played the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and students still came.

The real and primary reason why students at Michigan and even Ohio State stay home is all about ticket prices. It costs more to go to college today than the average person makes in an entire year. College kids do not make a lot of money anyway, when you start charging your students so much for tickets that they have to decide between going to a game against Western Michigan or paying rent, no wonder why they do not go to the games. School pride and tradition are nice, but eating and paying rent are a bit more of a priority. Brandon has to remember who his audience is..............Remember the time when students actually got into the game for free, or when a student ticket was not much more than a beer or 2 at the bar?

Floyd Stahl's picture

Wow, Brandon is running the athletic department into the ground with over saturation. It gets tiring when EVERY single opportunity is exploited to make money.

Perhaps for the students the only thing worth attending the game for as opposed to watching it at home is seeing Mary Sue Coleman give a slurred halftime speech.

buckeye_chick's picture

I've gone to games since the 60s and came really, really close to not renewing this year. It's a combination of reasons, but the main one is the way Ohio State treats its football customers like they're in a prison camp. Once upon a time, you could go visit your friends in other areas of the stadium (after halftime, usually). You could bring a cookie into the stadium. (A security guard confiscated a chocolate-chip cookie from my purse two years ago. Seriously.) You could bring a bota bag in. You could tailgate without hiding what you were doing (always makes me feel like a teenager and my parents could be coming home early, so hide the stuff, man!). I am treated as if I was some sort of enemy. Now, of course, 9/11 changed a lot of things. However, since 9/11 I have been to many away games (Texas, Washington, and most of the B10 schools). Not one place does to their fans what Ohio State does to theirs. Every year they seem to come up with yet another rule or increase in cost to make it less and less pleasant to spend a Saturday afternoon there.

As far as cost, I contend that you can still take your family of four to a game for a reasonable price. You can't do it for a big game, but for your average Indiana game you can park, walk to the stadium, and wait until almost kickoff. The scalpers are practically giving those tickets away...and thatt's another reason I probably won't get tickets next year.

+2 HS
Menexenus's picture

I agree with your "prison camp" sentiment.  I've had *water* confiscated from me when entering the stadium.  Water!

Real fans stay for Carmen.

AndyVance's picture

This is a cautionary tale for the powers that be in Columbus. And TSUN pulled Bacon's press pass? Are you effing kidding me? That's bush league, even by Ann Arbor standards.

+1 HS