By Nick Hopson
For years Michigan has had one of the biggest and loudest student sections in the nation. Recently, there has been a seating policy change that may dull the roar. Students no longer have an assigned seat. The section is now general admission meaning seats will be on a first come first serve basis. Michigan Athletic Director David Brandon made this change in order to entice the students to show up earlier.
As a student season ticket holder, I have noticed the patchy attendance. There always seemed to be empty seats at the top of the student section. The section was based on seniority so these seats were the ones reserved for the freshman. These absences were most noticeable when Michigan played a weak opponent.
Several students have shown disgust on social networks about the policy change. Other students have taken it farther saying that they will not be buying tickets due to the policy change. However, it is very possible that these could be false threats. The students' anger comes from the lack of a guaranteed seat. The section is imagined as some type of free for all wrestling match for an inch of space. Forget about having to go to the bathroom.
The policy also seems to have cheated the seniors out of their rights to the lower bowl seats. They no longer have the seniority advantage and will have to show up early like everyone else. Personally, I would have preferred a different system. I don't think it is right for freshmen to get the lower seats just because they showed up the earliest. I would prefer not having to wait in line for five hours for a three hour game.
The question is will this policy actually prove effective. For instance, freshman used to not show up due to their bad seats. Now when students show up past a certain time they will be given these presumed bad seats. These students who don't show up on time may feel the same as the freshman and not show up at all.
It is important to note that alumni are a huge part of the program. They keep it alive with their attendance and their donations. If current students are upset then it is less likely that they will continue to contribute to the program after they graduate. It is still very possible that it has no impact due to the massive support of the team.
Michigan is also shifting their single game tickets to a dynamic price model. Instead of having a fixed price for each game, the prices will change based on a few factors. Dynamic pricing uses a computer that makes adjustments based on team performance, visiting team's performance, weather and the number of remaining tickets.
This will lead to higher prices for many of the critical games in the season. The lowest dynamic price for the Notre Dame and Ohio State games is currently $195. In contrast, the game against Central Michigan is valued at $70.
The dynamic ticket prices will not go below the season ticket values of $65. If you plan on buying single game tickets for this season, I recommend that you do it as soon as possible. This dynamic price model is sure to drive the price up the closer we get to the game.