Last night rumors started that Clemson would institute a $225 ticket fee for any student wishing to attend football games for the 2016 season. If true it would have been the next step in attempt to tap into the revenue stream of current students. In 2014 a proposal to add a $350 athletic fee to all students was tabled after the athletic department realized just how unpopular the idea was. Clemson is currently the only school in the ACC and SEC that does not charge for student tickets or have an athletic fee added to a student's tuition and fees bill.
Clemson's AD has released a statement today about the proposed changes. Right now the athletic department is saying that there is a proposal to introduce a voluntary student ticket fee for football tickets. This fee would guarantee students closer seats to the field. It is not mandatory, and free tickets would still be available to the student body. It is not a traditional season ticket for all students, but rather a way to make some extra revenue off of students willing to pay to sit close to the field. The current system involves students signing in online before games by class and selecting a section they want to sit in that has tickets available.
The athletic department also claims that this will open up more tickets to students and in a consolidated area. Currently there is a limited supply of student tickets that outweighs demand during bigger games. I'm a bit skeptical about the department's claim because there never seems to be a problem with filling the student section in the lower deck. The problem seems to come with students forced into the upper deck. This could result in better upper deck seating, but unless the athletic department is going to move the tickets for family members of players or move some IPTAY donors to the upper deck, there won't be a change closer to the field.
It will be interesting to see how many of these tickets will be available to students and if the tickets will even be limited. This could be nothing but a cash grab to try and maximize the profit the AD can earn from students. With pushback in 2014 over a student athletic fee this could be sly workaorund. By not limiting the tickets available in this way, students could be forced to pay the $225 if they want decent seats for football, some could end up paying for the privilege of sitting in the upper deck if there is no limit. It is also possible this is a test run to try and implement season ticket fees for all student tickets. We'll have to wait until the formal announcement next week to see what the details of this plan are, but right now it is hard to see it as anything more than the continued profit of college athletics at the expense of everything else.
Update: From Larry Williams over at Rivals some additional details are available.
The plan is to have 3,300 tickets available for free in the upper deck of the South stand. Everything else will involve these paid tickets, specifically in the lower deck. Frankly it is disgusting and something I am ashamed to hear about from Clemson. I take pride in Clemson being unique, a place where students can attend athletic events for free. That should change. Raise my season ticket prices. I pay $52 per game for a season ticket. I'll pay more, we should all be willing to pay more. Students shouldn't have to pay more for a college experience. This current plan will give Clemson close to an additional $2 million a year in revenue not counting the loss in IPTAY renewals from the student body. If they raised ever ticket to $75 a game they could raise $9-10 million instead. How about we do that instead if we so desperately need the money? Which, by the way, no one has ever explained why we need this additional revenue. Yes, costs are rising, but so have media deals and other income.Just another exploitation of college students, I guess I shouldn't be surprised.