New U-M basketball ticket fees are an assault on the most loyal and long-time fans
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
I write to register my disappointment and dismay at the recent announcement by the University of Michigan Athletic Department to significantly raise the price of season tickets to attend the basketball games at Crisler Center.
I (recently) received a communication labeled “The Next Chapter Begins.” This title seems to imply that there is some sort of (progressive, positive) natural step toward imposing upon me and my fellow long time fans a new and aggressive tax on purchasing season tickets. Quite the contrary, I view the new charging algorithm as a regressive, arbitrary, and uncalled for assault on all long-time fans of the U-M basketball team.
I certainly understand the need to increase revenue in order to support the costs of all the U-M intercollegiate team sports (and I gladly pay my normal year-to-year ticket price increase). In recent years there have been an impressive number of new or updated facilities.
The newly minted basketball practice building is certainly a welcome addition in support of the team. Although I have to admit that many of us who played the sport in an earlier period, wonder why the team cannot practice in the same building that they play their games; and why the student-athletes cannot study in their rooms and the campus libraries. However this seems to be a part of the current era and expectations, and we as fans wish the team well in their new facility.
But I should add that the recent public relations on the building implies that it was paid for by donations to the Athletic Department building fund. The messages about the new ticket fees implies that we (the regularly) attending fan base should be financially supporting the structure.
One of the reasons that the new ticket tax is unfortunate is that the burden of the increase falls on the most loyal and long-standing component of the fans, the season ticket holders. Those of us who have season tickets in the lower bowl (the Blue section) will be the most impacted.
I should also point out that most of us who sit in the Blue area seats have done so for many, many years. We have faithfully supported the teams, through good seasons and bad. And make no mistake there have been many mediocre and less than adequate teams over the last decades.
Now that the team is suddenly and happily a successful and entertaining group, and for the first time in almost 20 years the arena is close to a sellout for each game, you now impose this new exorbitant tax upon us.
I personally have been a season ticket holder for almost 30 years, and I have been attending games at Crisler Arena for almost four decades, since I was a student at the university. I will admit that your new ticket license arrangement does give me some credit for my longevity and loyalty, but only dates to the early 1990s (my guess is that this is only as far back as your electronic database goes). I receive no credit for the previous two decades of loyalty (not to mention my payments for the season tickets for all those years).
Over all those seasons, through good teams and not so good teams, good weather and bad, strong opponents and lesser ones, Big Ten and nonentity-December- preseason contests, we in the Blue seats show up, game in and game out.
I do acknowledge that you have done a nice job in refurbishing the new Crisler Center. Although most of us were satisfied with the old Crisler Arena, except for the antiquated bathrooms, which you have still not updated. I suppose as soon as you do that, then we can expect a new user tax for that service as well!
The new ticket surcharge will impose a significant fee increase on families at a time when the Michigan economy is fragile. [A number of us are retired after long careers of service with the University and are on fixed incomes.] For me this only amounts to a modest increase for this year, but for many others the increase will be substantial. Future years promise even larger levies. And the Athletic Department has not even hinted at the amount that they will increase the regular per game and season ticket prices for next year and beyond. For many, the combined increases in the ticket prices and the added surcharge/tax could almost double the cost of tickets in the near future, increasing the costs by hundreds of dollars.
I think that I can safely speak for most of my fellow fans that we are overjoyed with the current coach (the best in all the years that I have observed) and this group of players, who perform with heart and effort and smarts and efficiency. We back them 100 percent. However we are less than pleased with the decisions of the administrative leadership. You should be embarrassed by your recent ticket price policies.
I will attend the last game of the season to cheer my team on, and to extend my appreciation for the fine careers of Stu Douglass and Zack Novak, who exemplify the best that is implied by the phrase “GO BLUE!” I am happy to applaud and honor the team and the coaches and the university. I wish that I could feel the same about the athletic department leadership, which I find disappointing and short-sighted.
Henry “Hank” Heitowit retired from the University of Michigan after a 35-year career in research and education administration. He has been attending U-M basketball games for almost 40 years, and has been a season ticket holder for the past 30 years.