Tradition For Fun, But Mostly Profit

Posted by on Dec 14, 2012 in Uncategorized | 931 comments

[To listen to the audio version, click here: Bacon_final_seat_license_for_web_12-14-12]

This week, the University of Michigan announced an increase in the cost of ‘seat licenses’ for football season ticket holders.

Before I dive into what all this means, let me explain what a ‘seat license’ is, because, if you’re a normal person, it won’t make much sense.

A ‘seat license’ is a fee that teams make their fans pay just to reserve the right to buy the actual tickets.  They call it a donation – which is a stretch, since every fan apparently decided to donate exactly the same amount, or lose our tickets.  But that allows us to claim it as a gift to a state university, and a tax deduction.

It’s hard to call that honest.  Thanks to the latest hike, it’s hard to call it cheap, either.

In fairness, Michigan was the last of the top 20 programs, ranked by attendance, to adopt a seat license program, in 2005 – even though Michigan always finishes first in attendance.  And the seat licenses started gradually: $250 for the best seats the first year, then $500 the second.  They were nice enough to spare the folks in the endzone.

But this week Michigan pushed the seat license for the top ticket up to $600 each, and even the folks in the endzone will have to pay $150 per ticket, just for the right to buy them.  In the past decade, the total cost of my two tickets on the ten-yard line has more than tripled, to over $1700.  But my seats are no better, and the schedule keeps getting worse.

It makes you wonder how we got here.

I can remember on football Saturdays our parents giving us five bucks each, and that would cover a two-dollar student ticket, a hot dog, a coke, and a little plastic football to toss around outside the stadium at halftime.  That finski made the Michigan football players the cheapest babysitters in town.  We got hooked watching the band flying out of the tunnel, the players leaping up to touch the banner, and the little dogs, Whiskey and Brandy, nosing a soccer ball up and down the field at halftime.  We fell in love with it all – and I couldn’t wait for football season to come around again.

When we became Michigan students, it never occurred to us that we wouldn’t go to every game we could.  What else would you want to do?

Former Michigan Athletic Director Don Canham sold the experience – and we bought it.  Canham was a great marketer, but what impressed me most was what he would not do for money: solicit donors, put advertising on the uniforms or in the stadium, host night games, charge for tours – or ask for a raise.  He had already made millions in business, and didn’t feel the need to squeeze more from his alma mater.

The current athletic department now aggressively seeks donors and corporate sponsors.  It has brought advertising back to Crisler, in a big way, and has started sneaking advertising into the once-pristine Big House, too.  They now charge to host corporate events, wedding receptions, and even school tours, which had been free since the Big House opened in 1927.  Heck, until a few years ago, they didn’t even lock the gates during the week.

Michigan’s not alone, of course, and they will tell you it’s the cost of doing business – but what business, exactly?  When current Athletic Director Dave Brandon said on “60 Minutes” that the “business model is broken” – what he failed to grasp was that it’s “broken” because it was never intended to be a business in the first place.  After all, what business doesn’t have to pay shareholders, partners, owners, taxes, or the star attractions, the players and the band?

From its inception over a century ago, the athletic department’s goal was simply to be self-sustaining.  The athletic directors knew they had to meet the financial needs of the athletic program, but they exercised restraint, to avoid becoming a simply-for-profit professional team.  But the goal now is more, more, more, with no limits in sight – but for what?

Skyrocketing salaries, for starters.  In 1969, Bo Schembechler came to Michigan for $21,000.  Today Brady Hoke receives $3.25 million a year – 155-times more than Bo received his first season – and Hoke is still a half-million dollars behind Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz.

When Bill Martin reluctantly accepted the job in 2000, he insisted he be paid a dollar his first year, and his second, before agreeing in his third year to the middling rate of about $300,000.  Like Canham, Martin had become a multi-millionaire businessman, and didn’t want to be a burden to his alma mater.  He later turned down the president’s offer to double his salary, and declined all bonuses, while removing all advertising from Crisler Arena.

His successor, Dave Brandon, served as the CEO for two Fortune 500 companies, and is worth well over $100 million.  His salary at Michigan is fast approaching million dollars, including bonuses.  For the first time in Michigan’s long history, the athletic director makes more than the president.

The people behind our current “business model” count on our boundless passion for Michigan football to keep us coming back – and they know how to exploit it.  But my passion is for the players and the band and the tailgaters who will give just about any passerby a hot dog and a beer, simply for the asking.  My love is not for the money-changers trying to turn a buck on every facet of our fun.

I might not be alone.  For the first time since Bo got here in 1969, when attendance started growing every year, you’re starting to see the trend go the other way.  Some games this year you could see thousands of empty seats,  most of them in the student section, and I have a theory as to why.

Walk around Michigan Stadium, and you won’t see many kids.  How many parents want to shell out a few hundred bucks for what is now the most expensive babysitter in town?  Better to leave the kids at home, bring your business associates, and call it a tax deduction.

When these kids become college students, they are not addicted to Michigan football the way we were.  Many of them could take it or leave it – and they proved it this fall.

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.

We might be witnessing the dawn of a new era – or the dusk of an old one.

* * * * *

I’ll be on with Robin Young, the host of WBUR’s “Here and Now” — which runs on 170 NPR stations, including Michigan Radio, or you can get it on http://hereandnow.wbur.org/ — LIVE, Friday, from 12:40-12:50 p.m., to discuss my commentary on the sham that is the modern college football bowl system.

More radio stuff: On Friday mornings, these commentaries run at 8:50 on Michigan Radio (91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit, Flint, 104.1 Grand Rapids), and a few minutes later,  I join Sam Webb and Ira Weintraub LIVE from 9:05 to 9:25 on WTKA.com, 1050 AM.  And on Sunday mornings, from the start of football season to the end of March Madness, I co-host “Off the Field” with the legendary Jamie Morris on WTKA from 10-11 a.m.  And yes, there will be a quiz, so “stop what you’re doing, and listen!”

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39 Responses to “Tradition For Fun, But Mostly Profit”

  1. Dave Brown says:

    John, great article as usual. I think part of the issue, which Jason Whitlock stated in an article a couple years ago, is the nonsensical expansion of the non-revenue sports which make the cost of the athletic department that much higher. Whitlock thought, and I agree, that the non-revenue sports should be scaled back to club sports to save money. Football and Basketball are what they are, the 2 sports that make money. If you scaled back the other costs maybe the cast to the fan in the revenue sports could be reduced. Maybe this would also (making non-revenue sports club) slow down the insanity of parents driving their kids to get college athletic scholarships.

    • Steve Graves says:

      I have read through all of the replies to your fine article, John. I agree with almost all of the sentiments of the writers, BUT I think everyone is missing the point.

      The POINT is that since Martin (and now Brandon) have been ADs, the Athletic Department has been accruing an annual surplus of between 3 and 11 million dollars per year. And I commend those two professional men for being able to do this.

      But the real question is why is Brandon continuing to increase ticket prices and add seat licenses at such a frenzied pace when the excess funds will just end up in a department “Rainy Day Fund” in some bank?

      I am already considering dropping my season passes to FB, BB and Hockey – not because I can not afford them. . . but rather I am beginning to be insulted by the relentless money grubbing policies being adopted by Brandon, and to some extent the University itself.

      Like we need more “WOW” moments? Give me a break! We already have two of the greatest WOWs in all of sports. . . the UMMBand and then the team bursting out of the tunnel prior to the game!

  2. I had the same childhood experience as you. And me and my buddy could recoup that $5 by collecting bottles and cans after the game and running them to the Kroger on Industrial.

    My parents gave up their 43-yard-line season tickets after Year Two of the Voluntary Donations, ending a streak that went back to 1975. They saw the trend and didn’t like the direction it was heading. And these are rabid fans, bowl game travelers … they’ve even arranged to donate their bodies to the Medical School after they’re gone.

    The real culprit, of course is the rise of television money. My parents and I have discovered that we can have a better experience sitting at home. The entire cost of premium cable for the whole year is less than the Voluntary Donations. And my wife doesn’t rummage through my bags when I enter the living room.

  3. Alan Knaus says:

    I agree with Dave Brown. Why are we planning to spend a fortune on all these non-revenue sports? Brandon now wants another 200 million (?) with his “those who stay will be amazed” campaign for these non-revenue sports. I really enjoy men’s football, men’s basketball and ice hockey which are all revenue sports. I really don’t care much about most of the rest. I wish them well but don’t care a hoot if we win the (for instance) women’s NCAA rowing championship. But that’s exactly what the seat licenses and high ticket prices are all about. I’ve been paying a lot of money in seat licenses and like John U. says I’m starting to feel like the fool.

    John also makes a very good point about getting kids to the games. That’s my personal history and to a lesser extent for my kids. However, my kid’s kids would never get this chance unless they were very rich.

  4. You nailed my feelings exactly. I thought the towers of “luxury seating” were going to hold down ticket costs for the common fan. It hasn’t seemed to work out that way.

  5. Terry MacEwen says:

    It’s only about the money. Loyalty is gone. God help the Michigan “brand” and the chances for the support of the next generation.

  6. ed daggett says:

    The Team The Team The Team was old motto: Dave Brandon –the Jerry Jones of college athletics new motto is “The Money, The Money, The Money”.

    Who is the AD at Alabama, ND or even MSU. Seems our AD wants it all to be about him. This is the same guy who said that Denard Robinson is not “Michigan Material” and told the last coaching staff to cut his dreadlocks.

    Since that time Brandon cannot get close enough to Denard if a camera is in sight

  7. Jim Randolph says:

    One of the consequences of both the football and basketball seat licenses is a changing “fan” base. In some respects this is John’s point.

    I hold multiple season tickets for both football and basketball (and ice hockey) and I see different folks sitting next to me from game to game. When asked, invariably they tell me they bought their tickets either directly from the owner or via StubHub. They love the experience and hope to come again some time in the future. Once of twice a year I meet the actual ticket owner.

    Some may say this is a good thing as it makes the game day experience available to a broader audience. I fear it signals the decline of true fans of the program. This was particularly evident when the basketball PSD program was implemented.

    Many of my older friends who had held good seats for 30 and 40 years could not afford the new expense and opted not to accept nose-bleed seats. Yes, the Crisler seats are being filled but my suspicion is they are less loyal fans – fans who might be more disposed to abandon the program during down years.

    I have been attending UM football games since 1958 and basketball games since the late 1960s and I miss those earlier years. Fans on both sides are now less civil; winning has become a bit too important; and it costs a lot more. Only the quality of the tailgate experience has remained constant.

    • I must defend the “StubHub” fan.

      Doors open all over the world for Michigan grads. Many of us leave the great state of Michigan upon graduation. It’s hard to purchase season tickets when you don’t live nearby.

      StubHub makes it easier for me to take my family to Michigan games. Considering my two sons sported their Michigan gear in Ohio today, I think you can call us true fans.

      To the people that bash Brandon for his approach to running our Athletic Department, what do you think he should do? Lower our income and cut expenses? Operate at a loss like our government? Find the cheapest person to coach our beloved teams? Don’t renovate Yost? Don’t renovate Crisler? What about the renovations to the Big House, such as the added restrooms? Back in the day, while John U. was paying $2 for a ticket, I missed the third quarter of the football game when I had to take a squirt.

      What about recruiting? Recruits are the lifeblood of our programs. If we don’t have top notch facilities, we won’t get top notch recruits.

      Should Brandon cut other sports? In my opinion, our Athletic Department should be about offering a great experience for all kids who play sports, not just kids that play income-producing sports. This is Michigan, fergodsakes.

      You can’t have it both ways. Either we will try to be the best of the best in everything that we do, or we can cut income, cut coach’s salaries, keep out advertisers, and field an average athletic department.

      John U. just wrote a book about average results within our athletic department. It’s advertised on this website.

  8. Brian Schwab says:

    Thank you for writing this. My wife and I have north endzone seats (since 1985) and have to decide if we want to pay our first “seat license” fee/donation. Right now I’m leaning toward no, although I know how I will feel sad/angry/lost next August 31 (my birthday!) when CMU visits Michigan Stadium.

    I also attended Michigan games as a child, walking to the stadium and paying the $2/$3 price for the high school and younger south endzone seats. My first game was in 1963. I went after halftime (remember when they opened the gates after halftime?) with a neighbor. Navy was the opponent that day, with Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach at QB. I remember the Michigan helmets, the gold Navy helmets and the big bowl of a stadium. These experiences as a child have stayed with me. You are correct that most of the youth of today have been priced out of having these same experiences.

    Do we really need a multi million dollar message board on Stadium Boulevard, weddings in “The Big House” or a state of the art rowing training center (nothing against rwoing, but what’s wrong with a boat in the water?)? This will soon price many adults out of the Michigan football experience. For me I’m afraid sooner than later.

  9. Kevin Lance says:

    Since the theme of the Dave Brandon era of college sports seems to be finding out how much the Michigan faithful are willing to pay to keep tradition alive (100,000 fans in the Big House every game since 1975, etc.), I wonder where the breaking point will be when enough ticket holders decide that a one-game boycott is needed. A message like that would show that the traditions come from the fans, not from the Athletic Department.

    The band playing to an empty stadium is not a circumstance that I’d ever want to see, but I can think of no stronger message to the University about the nature of who really makes Michigan football what it is. The fans.

  10. Unless you want to attend every game–which is difficult with travel, family or finances–do what I do.

    Give up your tickets & attend the games you want by purchasing an individual game ticket(s).

    Even paying scalper prices you will save a ton of $$$. With 110,000+ tickets will ALWAYS be available.

    • Steve Graves says:

      And that is exactly what I will be doing beginning next year, after buying season tickets since I graduated in 1966.

  11. Steven Craig says:

    John, I agree completely with your opinion. I am the father of 12 and 10 year old boys. I usually buy tickets outside the Stadium. I would love to take them to more games. It is not a good experience to take them to a game and end up in a section where people stand the entire game. If I spend good money for seats I want to sit in them

  12. Edward "Ned" DeGalan says:

    As always a pleasure, John. I agree with everything you said here. And, yes, I split my tickets between friends, family and business. But my two sons, one an alumni and one a Michigan student have made at least a game every year since they were tiny.

    The question is – How do we compete when every other program in the nation is already doing all of this. It is college’s “arms race”. No one wants it, but no one is ready to back down for fear that they are left vulnerable.

    I fear we can’t have a top program without the rest. Truly sad, but sadly true.

  13. Yeah fools I guess. I am an old guy. So old that when I was in school you paid your tuition and then went down and got your football tickets for paying tuition and nothing else. Most games you could sit anywhere in the stadium so few came. I think high school students could get in for a dollar. Hockey was the best bet in town as they had a good team (with hot headed Red playing for the Blue) and it cost 25 cents at the door, and up to the P-Bell for a beer after. Next best was Cazzie Russel and company at Yost (basketball) with a leaky roof. The only thing that you can count on is that times change. The only way to reduce that effect is to not buy in, but that wont happen will it? UM fans are addicted.

  14. Dylan Glenn says:

    I’ve seen Dave Brandon speak at the Business School multiple times. Both times he emphasized how his first move was to hire a Chief Marketing Officer for the department to ensure the Michigan brand is strong. And while some moves he has made as far as branding that I agree with, (e.g. ensuring we use the same simply maize block M across all sports and facilities) I question whether what he thinks the Michigan brand is and what most fans have perceived it as are the same. Michigan’s traditions are strong. Our teams are strong. So why does he move to wear special jerseys for bowls or against Alabama? Why would we play Alabama somewhere other than Ann Arbor or Tuscaloosa? Michigan has always been a major player in college football. We don’t need to be lobbying for attention at the determent of student, alumni, and fan interest. He speaks of putting together “wow moments” at Michigan Stadium, but I’m pretty wowed every time that team runs out of the tunnel. Wow moments are for players, not athletic departments.

  15. The University has so much more at stake than the incremental seat license revenue gain. In the “60 Minutes” piece, Dave Brandon indicated that 60-70% of the annual endowment monies flow into the University during football season. The last campaign, the “Michigan Difference” campaign, raised an unprecedented $3.5B. Might we all not be better off if the arms race decelerated? Only the NCAA and the university presidents can make that happen. We should all be concerned that we are but a few years away from $10M Head Coaching salaries. The reasons are many, but principal among them is the exploitation of young “revenue sport” athletes, who sign letters of intent as 17 and 18 year olds. With the skill players predominantly black in football and basketball, exploitation is a grave concern. Who, if not the universities and ours, in particular, should be leading the charge and looking out for these young athletes? The NFL will generate about $9.4B in revenue this year. Under the NFL collective bargaining agreement the players share a blend that amounts to about 51% of this revenue or about $4.8B for an average of $3.08M per player on the 53-man roster. In the college model the head coaches mostly benefit. At Texas two years ago, Head Coach Mack Brown alone hauled in about 6% of total football revenues while his 85 student scholarship athletes share approximately 2% or about $25K per student. The primary reason for escalating coaching salaries are twofold- skyrocketing TV revenues in the major conferences and the fact that “the help” works for free. On this subject, I recommend Taylor Branch’s, “The Shame of College Sports” which ran last year in the Atlantic Magazine. Two years ago the 10 Pac 10 teams generated $58M or $5.8/school in TV revenue. The Big Ten schools generated $240M this year or $22M/school. The Big Ten revenue per school is expected to be approximately $43M per school by 2017. No wonder Maryland and Rutgers are willing to take the risk of paying $52M each to buy their ways out of the ACC and join the Big Ten.

  16. I disagree with the negative comments about non-revenue sports. If there is anything left of the ideal of the student-athlete, it is in the non-revenue sports. They aren’t playing for a professional sports career, and often get partial scholarships at best. I don’t think they are the source of the money problems in college sports.

    • Tim Richards says:

      I’m with you, Gary. In addition to season tickets for basketball, I have season tickets for two so-called non-revenue sports; soccer (true football) and baseball, which are great fun and which have superb athletes on the team.
      I received my notification today about my requires “preferred seat donation” for men’s basketball next year already!

  17. Regarding Brandon’s comment that 60-70% of endowment funds come in during the football season – a smart businessman like him should know the difference between correlation and causation. I’d like to see real evidence that football is the cause of those donations, rather than the simple coincidence that the football season occurs late in the year which corresponds to the same time that many people make decisions about charitable donations.
    In addition, I think the academic side of the U should be concerned about the athletic side competing for alumni donations. Every dollar I “donate” to the AD for a seat license is a dollar that isn’t available to donate to the academic side of the University.
    Finally, if football dominance is so important to the endowment, I wonder how those Ivy League schools manage to maintain their huge endowments with the crappy product they put on the field.

    • john W Minton Jr says:

      As an Ivy League graduate whose university was coached by Fritz Crisler prior to his coming to Michigan, and whose teams wore a helmet that was adopted by Michigan, I resent the comment about a crappy product.

      If you wasnt to watch one of the most thrilling football games played, watch the movie ” Harverd beats Yale 29-29″. You can find it on Amazon.com.

      Big time college football has become a product unto itself, played by paid amateurs, who seem to be more interested in a pro contract than an education.

      All of us have sold our souls for “a mess of pottage” and we are not likely to get them back. I’d rather watch a small high school that hasn’t made football the most important thing on campus.

      As you might suspect, I am old enough to have moss
      growing on my north side.

      John W Minton Jr
      Bradenton, FL

      • Gary Dolce says:

        I agree with your completely. My comment about Ivy football was a poor attempt at sarcasm. Obviously, Ivy League teams don’t spend anywhere near what Michigan or other B10 teams spend on football, yet their endowments do just fine. And the football fans have just at much fun at their games.
        On the other hand, I lived in Ithaca for almost a decade and saw some really, really bad Cornell teams while I was there.

  18. I had wondered what Bo’s starting salary would in today’s dollars. According to http://www.davemanuel.com/inflation-calculator.php, Bo would have made $131,250 in 2012 ($21,000 in 1969 dollars equals $131,250 in 2012 dollars). Brady’s salary today is 26 2/3 more than Bo’s would be in today’s dollars. Interesting….

  19. Amazing, John. Absolutely amazing! I’m in Florida 1350 miles from you yet over this distance you can read my mind and fathom my feelings about the money grubbing state of Michigan athletics. You’re good!

    My first season tickets were free as a Michigan Letterwinner when they gave them to us simply to put bodies in the stadium with the assumption we wouldn’t want to sit alone and would buy more. It worked, I had eight at one time. Now I’m down to two and my son has four. I accept that we have to support all sports and that costs are rising so I didn’t resent paying the additional funds over the years.

    I guess what bothers me is the change in culture where loyalty was more important and money was secondary. When Bo stuck his finger in my chest and said, “We need your financial help. I can count on you right?” You know there was no other answer but yes. Now the atmosphere has changed and I won’t even answer the phone if caller ID shows Univ of Michigan simply to avoid another solicitation.

    Without question, I will still support Michigan but the fervor is diminishing. This is especially true when people go to hear the AD speak and literally get up and leave because, in their words, “You told me this was going to be about Michigan. It was all about Dave Brandon. I wanted to hear about Michigan.”

    Keep up the good reporting, John.

    • Gary Dolce says:

      “Now the atmosphere has changed and I won’t even answer the phone if caller ID shows Univ of Michigan simply to avoid another solicitation.”

      That’s a shame if the AD’s attitude has turned you off to giving to the rest of the University. There are so many great academic programs at Michigan (and so many students who have a hard time paying for them) that could use your support.

      I’ve had this conversation with a number of fellow alums who are long-time football fans. You pay so much for season tickets, but what do you do to support the real mission of the University?

  20. Right on John…excellent piece. From my perspective, the objective to maximize income has gotten overwhelming. I can also speak to the issue of moneys being syphoned off to club sports. As a coach of one of those “non revenue” sports I can testify we’ve not draining the till much at all. Our ice bill is only slightly discounted from those non university users and we pay extra to use the score board and visitors locker room. I’m presently trying to get over sticker shock from buying a Pop-Tart at the Yost “Coffee Shop” for $3.00! Of course it did have a maize block M frosting!

  21. John,

    This was fantastic, you really nailed it. And the summary in the last few paragraphs was dead on. I am one of the formerly grandfathered folks in the end zone that now too must digest the seat license burden.

  22. john W Minton Jr says:

    John, It was ever thus. After Ohio State’s 1968, including a Rose Bowl win over USC, they started the President’s club for the right to buy season tickets. Those loyal folks who showed up year in and year out at the ticket window were told that their past loyalty was appreciated, but what are you doing for me this coming year? George Staten, my old prep school baseball coach who was the Director of Ticket Sales, resigned in protest over the treatment of former long term season ticket holders. When you sell out for money, move to the temple and join the money changers. Men and women of character are hard to find around a university, or anywhere else, these days.

    John W Minton Jr
    Bradenton, FL

  23. Mark Panetta says:

    Those who stay will pay for the honor. It can easily cost a family 4, $500+ to watch Michigan play a crapp directional school their for a paycheck. $300 for tickets plus PSL share, $ 40 parking, buy some over priced logo stuff at the M DEN and something to eat and $500 is easily gone. A great day at Disney world is cheaper. Don’t even think about trying get tickets to a decent game without a season ticket. The tickets are slowly being purchased by corporate owners so they can write it off. The experience I have had for the last 30 years is fading away. Hardly anything happens that is spontaneous, everything is over produced and designed for revenue, from $4 dollar bottles of water, overly piped-in music, to special game jerseys (available for purchase) the game is less about Michigan and more about money. With the surpluses I don’t understand the need to squeeze more money out of everything. Michigan is the most expensive place to see a game in the B1G.

    • Dan Anderson says:

      Michigan is not the most expensive place in the Big 10 to see a game. Face value for tickets is roughly the same as it is for OSU and the minimum PSD there is $1,500 for two season tickets – and their fans are rabid enough that scalping isn’t a cheaper option.

      I mention OSU because I suspect a big part of what is going on regarding pricing comes from the Athletic Department folks looking at what they see down in Columbus as a gauge for what they are doing. Bill Martin very explicitly stated that as one of the reasons when the PSD was first implemented back in 2005.

  24. Brandon is a mercenary and he ultimately will ruin in for middle class families such as mine who cannot afford the additional expense … it’s sad but I may have to give up the same seats [ end zone ] I’ve held since 1978. I guess I’ll just watch EMU, App St., U Conn, U Mass, Baylor games, et al on the TV

  25. Stanley Robb says:

    I am not sure what Disneyland you have been too lately but a one park one day pass for a 3 year old is $119.

    I grew up near the stadium in the fifties and sixties and until Bo got there, the end zones were empty and an Ann Arbor student could get in for a buck in the fifties and then two bucks in the sixties just as John pointed out. The good old days are just that, the good old days. And as long as there is a Title IX thrown into the mix, the demand for money from the football program will remain unabated.

  26. You are dead on as always John! If they’re going to treat us all as nothing
    more than pocketbooks, and they’re going to charge more than most professional
    teams…certainly the ones in this town…than perhaps our expectations should
    be a little higher?

  27. Dan McGonnell says:

    How on earth is Dave Brandon worth almost a million dollars a year? By the same token, how can the MSU Ad, Mark Hollis and his wife gift MSU the several million
    dollars they did recently when they have incomes only from MSU and no other sources? It is ludicrous when these folks at the public cashiers booth act and live like CEO’s of privately held companies. Personally, I liked it better when Dave Brandon donated his millions to the university, not the university supporting his CEO lifestyle. Say what you will about Canham and Martin, at
    least they didn’t “MILK” the university and fans who support them.

  28. Doug Stieb in Ohio says:

    Nice article John. I remember in grade school when our football coach (an ardent UM fan himself) took the entire team to UM football games. It was this experience that sold me as a life-long UM fan. I grew up in Toledo – so this was no simple feat. I cannot (ok….maybe will not) pay the money to have my family of 4 attend a season of home games. Therefore, I absolutely agree with your point that younger folks today will not have the same experiences that we had as kids.

  29. Lee McAllister says:

    So today I get ready to send in my year end charitable giving dollars. What is on my mind is the thought that who do I cut out this year for $300 increase I am now incurring on my seat license increase. Actually, in the tradition of robbing Peter to pay Paul, the Michigan Athletic Scholarship fund that I have given to over the years is the victim. And that alone makes me sick. So now instead of helping to improve the education of the very players I watch for entertainment, I am forced to pay just for the entertainment, the hell with education. The New World. Thanks alot Dave for helping me with my priorities. Oh and much thanks for the bribe of earning 2 more priority points with online giving……

  30. Sky Seymour says:

    I was one of the original members of the Victor’s Club. I joined in 1977. The cost of a membership was $10,000, payable at the rate of $1000 per year. In consideration for my $10,000 contribution, commencing in 1977, I had the right to purchase four seats from the Athletic Department in Section One. Don Lund, Michigan’s Assistant A.D. sent me a letter, which I still have, dated June 30. 1988, corroborating that I was a Lifetime Member of the Victor’s Club. The Preferred Seating Donation program which Bill Martin implemented in 2005, rendered my Lifetime Victor’s Club membership meaningless. In 2005, I computed that the present value of my $10,000 contribution, made during the period 1977-1986, was approximately $117,000. Under Martin’s Preferred Seating Donation program, I had to rejoin the Victor’s Club (Of which I had been a Lifetime Member since 1988) each season in order to have the right to purchase my same football stadium seats. I allowed the Athletic Department to extort the Preferred Seating Donation from me through the 2010 season. At that time I ceased renewing my football tickets. The cost of the Preferred Seating Donation was not the reason for the decision. My decision was based on several factors including my displeasure with the people who are running and profiting from the Athletic Department. I am proud to have received an undergraduate degree and a law degree from Michigan. I resent being gouged by the likes of current A.D., Dave Brandon, however, and I refuse to take it any longer.

  31. Les Schefman says:

    Brandon’s recent decision to punish the students of the University for not showing up on time for games by instituting a General Admission ticket is typical of his thinking. He wants the stadium to look full for television.

    The kids paid for those seats. It was their right to show, or not show, on their own schedule.

    Tradition is traded for money. I like the idea posted earlier of a one-game “empty stadium” protest. Michigan needs to fire Dave Brandon.

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